History MA/MA(SocSci)

Coffee, Coke and Chocolate: global ramifications of modern consumer cultures HIST4275

  • 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 introduces students to ways of studying and writing commodity histories. Students will study the global ramifications of growing sugar, cocoa and coffee consumption in Europe and North America from around 1500, especially the ways the production of these commodities has shaped landscapes and labour regimes in the Global South and involved the migration of millions of Africans, Asians and Europeans across the globe. The course involves students developing their own research project, writing a case-study of the production or consumption of one commodity in one place.


15x1hr lectures; 5x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in 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





Research Project (3000 words) - 60%

Set exercises, reports on a selected primary or secondary source, to be discussed in class (5 x 500 word reflections on reading) - 40%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

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 in the first two years of study, especially in global history;

■ Acquire knowledge about new methodologies and theories in global history focussed on the study of commodities;

■ Develop subject-specific and transferable skills through primary source research and the crafting of historical arguments;

■ Engage in critical conversation with each other and their tutor about the interpretation of historical evidence.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Recognise the impact sugar, coffee and cocoa consumption has had on landscapes, labour regimes and migration flows across the Global South;

■ Analyse a clearly defined segment of the sugar, coffee or cocoa commodity chain connecting consumers and producers in different parts of the world;

■ Develop an original research question and construct a cogent historical argument based on independent research;

■ Identify, assess and interpret specialised secondary literature and relevant primary sources;

■ Engage in group discussion with peers in a critical, open-minded and respectful way.

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.