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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:22

Course Overview

This course aims to introduce students to Atlantic history by using one of its key themes: race. It seeks to provide an introduction not merely to broader frameworks of Atlantic world history, but also to a range of methodological approaches in the study of social, cultural, political and intellectual history. The course begins by looking at methodological approaches to Atlantic world history before charting ancient and medieval ideas on race, racialism and xenophobia. The first half of the course focuses on the ways in which exotic peoples and lands were represented in European texts, and the social history of early settlement and colonial exploitation. Five sessions then follow on the history of racial ideas as they related to religion, science, society, human ‘progress’ and the management of globalising empires. The course then turns to examine the twin crises of revolution and abolitionism and their role in the development of racial ideas and practices in Europe and the Americas. The final session explores the reinvention of race in the diffusion of Darwinian evolution throughout the Atlantic world. A research-based approach to teaching and learning will be taken throughout, partly by drawing directly on the course organiser’s own research, and through a focus on the analysis of seminal texts in each seminar.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Bradford Bow

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme
  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • HI357D Race in the Atlantic World (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Week 1. Introduction: Defining Ethnicity, Race, Racialism, Racism

Week 2. Ethnic Diasporas

Week 3. Fluidity of Race in Early Modern Europe and Africa

Week 4. Colonising Racism in the New World

Week 5. Racial Theology: Preadamites, Monogenesis, Polygenesis

Week 6. Sciences of Racial Difference: Physiognomy, Climate  

              Theory, and the Anatomy of Human Nature

Week 7. Ethnographical Travel Narratives

Week 8. Imperial Race Relations

Week 9. Racial Limits of Natural Liberties in the Age of


Week 10. Liberating Race in Nineteenth-Century Abolitionism

Week 11. Modernising Race in Darwinian Evolution

Week 12. Revisions

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

2 source analyses (20% each)

Discussion board participation (20%)

Online Exam (40%)


resit: 3 hour exam

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualUnderstandHave an understanding of the ways in which ideas of race developed in historical contexts.
FactualUnderstandRecognise the influence of geographical, imperial and social contexts on the intellectual and institutional constructions of race in the Atlantic world.
ProceduralEvaluateBe aware of the complex relationships among commerce, religion and science within conceptual ideas of race.
ProceduralAnalyseBe able to analyse primary source texts, situating them in terms of context, genre and argument.

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