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HIST3123 Slavery and Freedom in the British Caribbean Part 1

Module Overview

This module explores themes and questions related to the many complex histories of slavery, abolitionism and emancipation.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to: - Introduce you to the history of slave emancipation in the British Caribbean - Allow you to study themes related to this topic such as the development of the British abolition movement, slave resistance and slaveholder politics - Enable you to interpret and analyse some of the original documents used by historians to study British slavery and abolition

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The characteristics of slave societies and plantation economies in the British Caribbean
  • The criticisms of slavery arising in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • Efforts by slaveholders and their allies to prevent or delay the dismantling of British slave systems
  • The role of enslaved people in opposing and resisting slavery
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Display effective time management in preparation of class and coursework assignments
  • Critically assess large amounts of complex material
  • Work independently in preparing for class work and written assignments
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand key debates that have divided historians of slave emancipation
  • Analyse, interpret and use historical evidence


Slavery was once at the heart of the British colonial experience. By 1770, sugar-producing plantations worked by enslaved labourers from Africa had transformed the Caribbean, revolutionised British habits of consumption and lay at the centre Britain's lucrative colonial enterprise. Enslaved people had always resisted slavery, but from the late eighteenth century, the system also came under attack from some within British society. By the 1830s, following mass campaigns, the system was discredited and in the process of being dismantled. For the remainder of the nineteenth century, anti-slavery was one of the mainstays of the British colonizing mission. This, however, was not the end of the slavery story: former slaves struggled to make freedom meaningful in the years after emancipation, and their descendants still endure racist barbs originally mobilised to oppress their ancestors. This module examines the slave systems of the British Empire. It looks at how enslaved people resisted these systems and at the ways in which men and women in the British isles criticized slavery. It begins by looking at the character of slavery in the British Caribbean, exploring the economic and social structure of slave societies. The module also investigates the rise in Britain of organised opposition to slavery and the slave trade after the 1780s. Central questions addressed by the module include: Why did an organised abolitionist movement emerge in Britain? In what ways did the actions of enslaved people influence British debates and campaigns over slavery and the slave trade? What can we learn about the cultures and world views of slaves and former slaves from surviving evidence?

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is taught via seminars. You will receive a pack of historical documents which will form the focus for weekly group discussions. You will also be encouraged to find additional sources in local libraries. Learning activities include - Reading and private study - Group discussions - Mini-presentations by students

Preparation for scheduled sessions100
Follow-up work100
Completion of assessment task56
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition, 1760 - 1810; Roger Anstey; 1975. 

The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation; Thomas Bender; 1992. 

Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World: A Student Reader; Hilary McD. Beckles and Verene A. Shepherd (eds); 2000. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Timed Assignment  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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