Peoples and Empires in Latin America, 1492-1820s (HIH2030A)

StaffDr Silvia Espelt-Bombin - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

By the end of this module, you will have gained an understanding of the place of early modern Latin America within the Atlantic world. You will be able to discuss the different ways in which the Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and British people and states settled in and administered their Latin American colonies, and the connections brought together Europe, African and Latin America during the early modern period. You will display a factual and historiographical understanding of the history of people of African, European and indigenous origin and descent in Latin America, and their role in the establishment, development and shaping of the continent. You will be able to create independent arguments through critical engagement with primary sources (written and visual) and secondary sources including archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic material. This module provides you with an opportunity to explore a new area of history, and helps you develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised modern and contemporary history of Latin America.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be aware of the political, economic, social and cultural developments in the history of Latin America between 1492 and the 1820s.
  • 2. Make a close evaluation of the key developments and debates in the history of European colonisation of Latin America, of indigenous history and of Afro-Latin America, and their interconnections, during the early modern period.
  • 3. Evaluate the main themes in the subject and to collate information upon, and evaluate in greater detail, those aspects of the module discussed in seminar and especially those topics selected by students for their coursework.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Analyse the key developments of early modern Latin America, especially in relation to empires, frontiers, race and ethnicity.
  • 5. Collate data from a range of sources, both primary and secondary, in English.
  • 6. Interpret primary sources.
  • 7. Trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments.
  • 8. Recognise and deploy historical terminology correctly.
  • 9. Assess different approaches to historical writing in areas of controversy.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions.
  • 11. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with little guidance.
  • 12. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument.

Syllabus plan

Topics will include:

European exploration; Encounters between Indigenous, African and Europeans; transatlantic connections; Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch and British colonial projects in Central and South American and the Caribbean; imperial policies and imperial reforms; inter-imperial relations, frontiers and borderlands; colonial societies; indigenous communities; maroon communities.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Lectures (22 x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars (11 x2hr)
Guided independent study22Web-based activities located on ELE – preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study234Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan500 words1-12Verbal and Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay303,000 words1-12Verbal and Written
Group Presentation2025 minutes1-12Peer-assessed and moderated by tutor
Exam502 hours1-12Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay3,000 word essay1-12Referral/Deferral Period
Group Presentation1,500 script as for individual presentation, equivalent to 10 minutes1-12Referral/Deferral Period
Exam2 questions in 2 hours1-12Referral/Deferral Period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment of the essay and exam are exactly the same, a 3,000 words essay (worth 30%) and a 2 hours exam (worth 50%). The group presentation will be replaced by a written script equivalent to 10 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Andrews, G. R., Afro-Latin America (OUP, 2004).

Canny, N., Morgan, Ph. (ed), The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, 1450-1850 (OUP, 2011).

Elliott, J., Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830 (New Haven, 2006).

Greene, J. P., and Morgan, P.D. (eds.), Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (OUP, 2008).

Heuman, G., Brief Histories: The Caribbean (Hodder Arnold, 2005).

Langfur, Hal (ed.), Native Brazil: Beyond the Convert and the Cannibal, 1500-1900 (University of New Mexico Press, 2014)

Moore, Jerry D., A Prehistory of South America. Ancient Cultural Diversity on the Least Known Continent (University Press of Colorado, 2014).

Restall, M. (ed.), Beyond Black and Red. African-Native Relations in Colonial Latin America (University of New Mexico Press, 2005).

Thornton, J. K., A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250–1820 (CUP, 2012).


ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Web based and electronic resources:

Colonial Latin America 

Slave Voyages Database:

John Carter Brown Library:

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Latin America; Atlantic; early modern; Race; Ethnicity; Frontiers; Empires; colonialism; African-Americans; Indigenous; Spanish America; Brazil; Cuba;