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Module Details


This module is an option available to first-year students in History and in joint degrees with History. Options are designed to complement the first-year core courses by providing the opportunity for study in greater depth of particular regions, periods or themes.


The module introduces students to topics in North American history, from the first European settlements of the early 17th century to the present day. Its primary focus is on the British North American colonies and on the USA. Detailed coverage of North American history within the scope of a 30 CAT module is not feasible, and is not attempted. Instead, students are asked to consider some major recurrent themes (including social history, race, class, gender, and political developments) by studying key episodes and events in some detail.

Teaching and Learning

The module is taught through weekly lectures and weekly 1-hour seminars of up to 16 students, with individual tutorials to discuss feedback on students' essays. Students are expected to prepare for seminars by completing the required reading as listed under each week. Click here for the full module timetable.

Reading Lists

The module uses the library's Talis Aspire Reading Lists System. You can access the reading lists (which include links to the required seminar reading) by clicking here.


This module moves swiftly and does not attempt to cover "all" of American history. If you would like to further your understanding, then the recommended textbook for this module is Susan-Mary Grant, A Concise History of the United States of America (2012). It is available via the library as an e-book.

Note that you should use the textbook to supplement, not to replace, the required seminar reading. It is not usually appropriate to cite the textbook in an essay.


This module is assessed by essays. Further information including deadlines and how to submit essays can be found on the department assessment & submission webpages.

Click here for more information about the essays for this module.

Expected Learning Outcomes

In this module students will (through lectures, reading, preparation for and participation in seminars, and preparation for and writing essays):

  1. develop their study, writing, and communication skills; this course will be an important part of their practical introduction to university-level work and study;
  2. gain an understanding of significant themes in North American history, and of patterns of change and continuity over four centuries of European settlement and development in North America;
  3. gain an awareness of the contributions of different historical sub-disciplines (including social, political and economic history, and the history of gender) to interpretations of this subject matter;
  4. be introduced to some key primary documents in North American history, and to gain experience of reading such documents for the meanings and evidence that they contain;
  5. through the use of web-based resources, be introduced to means of using electronic means of finding and retrieving relevant source material and bibliographic references;
  6. through the independent preparation and writing of 3000-word essays, to choose and frame for themselves a topic worthy of analysis; to construct their own bibliographies of source materials from books, articles and websites; to gather evidence and use it to shape a cogent and coherent extended analytical discussion; and where appropriate to deploy evidence from primary sources and/or historiographical discussions.

Module Convenor:
Dr Lydia Plath

Contact Details:
Skype: lydiaplath
Room H3.26
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