History MA/MA(SocSci)

Punishment, Internment and Containment: The History and Archaeology of Prisons and Camps HIST4204

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will look at the history and archaeology of incarceration, considering the different ways in which individuals and groups have been deprived of their liberty. The course will look at prisons, prisoner of war camps, political prisons, internment, concentration camps, and death camps.


15 x 1hr lecture and 5 x 1hr seminar over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Essay (2,500 words) - 50%

5 seminar presentations of 500 words each (50%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ develop intellectual interests and analytical skills acquired during their first two years;

■ study previously unfamiliar methodological approaches, chronological periods and geographical areas, using evidence from a range of disciplines;

■ develop skills in historical computing, as well as basic IT awareness;

■ introduce complex historical debates and interpretations, to develop skills in interpreting primary sources where appropriate, and to inform these discussions with new ideas derived from lecturers' current research;

■ develop transferable skills by fostering individual initiative, personal choice, and group discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ present the history of prisons, PoW camps, internment and concentration camps.

■ assess the ideologies and theories that underlay approaches to the confinement of individuals and whole groups; the wider context of prisons and camps; and their effect upon domestic society.

■ analyse constructively primary source material, including documentary sources and material culture.

■ use primary sources to assess the validity of the secondary literature.

■ present relevant analysis in unambiguous, concise and effective prose, incorporating a range of substantiating evidence in essays, seminar papers, and a written exam.

■ lead and participate in seminar discussions, delivering analysis clearly and effectively in oral presentations and in group discussion.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.