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Unit information: Modern Latin American Revolutions in 2018/19

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Unit name Modern Latin American Revolutions
Unit code HIST20042
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Cervantes
Open unit status Not open




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


Modern Latin America has been unduly neglected by historians since the fall of the Berlin wall and the consequent decline in interest in Revolutions and peasant studies, all of which had made the region highly popular in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. This unit centres on a reassessment of the study of Revolutions and the role they have played in the development of modern Latin American nations. It will study four major Latin American revolutions in chronological order – the Mexican (1910), the Bolivian (1952), the Cuban (1959) and the Nicaraguan (1979) – each time aiming to highlight common problems that are central to our understanding of modern Latin America. Among these are issues of international relations, land reform, the military, the church and liberation theology, democracy, neo-liberalism, and the return of left-wing populism. Students will also be encouraged to come up with their own suggestions for independent study.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the history of modern Latin America;
  2. analyse issues of continuity and change;
  3. select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points;
  4. identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint;
  5. demonstrate the acquisition of key writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching details


1 x two-hour interactive lecture

1 x one-hour workshop

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

1 x two-hour exam (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

L. Bethell (ed), The Cambridge History of Latin America, vols 5, 6, 7 & 8 (Cambridge, various edns).

L. Bethell (ed), Latin America: Politics and Society since 1930 (Cambridge, 1998).

Michael Reid, The Forgotten Continent: the Battle for Latin America’s Soul (New Haven and London, 2007).

T. E. Skidmore and P. H. Smith, Modern Latin America, 6th edn (Oxford, 2005).

E. Williamson, The Penguin History of Latin America (Harmondswroth, 1993).