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Unit information: Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject) in 2016/17

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Unit name Race and Resistance in South Africa (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37010
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Rob Skinner
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores the construction of, and opposition to, systems of racial segregation and apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa. Using a range of sources, including visual sources, personal accounts and literature, the unit addresses the ideological foundations of white supremacy and the legislative framework that sustained it, and relates them to the social and cultural changes wrought by the processes of industrialization and urbanization. The unit explores a number of themes critical to an understanding of the social, cultural and ideological foundations of South Africa’s racially- segregated society, including concepts of race, ethnicity and nationalism. Students will examine the ways in which individual South Africans experienced and explained the basis of their segmented society as well as the impact of transnational ideologies, such as liberal humanitarianism and human rights.

  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research on racial segregation and apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis

To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of race and resistance in South Africa
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching details

Seminars - 3 hours per week

Assessment Details

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

W.Beinart, Twentieth Century South Africa (2001).

N. Clark and W. Worger, South Africa: the rise and fall of apartheid (2011).

A. Krog, Country of My Skull (1999).

N. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1995).

A. Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country (1987).

N.Worden, The Making of Modern South Africa (2000).