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PORT1001 Introduction to The Portuguese-Speaking World

Module Overview

This course is designed as an introduction to contemporary Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking Africa. It focuses particularly on key aspects of the history of those nations, such as exploration and discovery, colonialism, dictatorship and migration.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Introduce you to key themes in the history of the Portuguese-speaking nations, such as discovery, colonisation, migration, ethnicity and dictatorship; • Critically examine different interpretations of the significance that those themes have had for the Portuguese-speaking world; • Provide you with historical context for the detailed study of cultural expressions from the Portuguese-speaking world in you 2nd and final years; • Introduce you to different approaches towards the study of history and society, which will be examined in further details in other year 1 Modern Languages modules; • Develop your skills in oral presentation of argument and in academic writing.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The broad historical development of the major Portuguese-speaking countries;
  • The debates between different versions of that historical development;
  • The political, social and cultural factors that connect the different Portuguese-speaking nations;
  • Some of the major forms of cultural expression in Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking Africa;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the different ways in which the histories of the Portuguese-speaking nations have been presented;
  • Develop your own ideas on a range of social, political and cultural issues related to the Portuguese-speaking world;
  • Develop an understanding of how ideologies are represented through various media;
  • Establish links between the issues discussed and those covered in other year 1 Modern Languages modules.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Contribute to debate/discussion;
  • Use referencing techniques when researching;
  • Develop methods for the critical analysis of a variety of texts;
  • Assess arguments and develop your own response to them.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Confidently discuss a wide range of texts dealing with the Portuguese-speaking world : history, political studies, literature and film;
  • Research topics relating to the Portuguese-speaking world and critically assess the different perspectives encountered;
  • Express your ideas clearly both orally and in writing;
  • for those taking Portuguese language) work more confidently in Portuguese through development of reading skills and comprehension.


The module serves as an introduction to the historical development of Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking Africa. It begins with Portugal, exploring the formation of the nation, its development into a maritime power, and the establishment of its empire. Salient features of nineteenth and twentieth century history will be discussed, culminating with the Revolution of April 25th 1974, which will be used as a means to connect a number of different themes: the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Portugal; the end of empire and the continuing sense of belonging to a Portuguese-speaking world. Major aspects and issues of Portuguese cultural identity will be considered as we review the nation’s historical development. Also examined will be the important role played by Portuguese emigration in the twentieth century and the establishment of Portuguese diasporas in different parts of the world. The second half of the module turns to Portuguese-speaking Africa and Brazil. The history of Angola and Mozambique will be outlined in order to understand the conflicts that have affected both nations in recent decades. We will also examine how the political struggles of both have been debated in film and poetry from the two countries. In the case of Brazil, particular emphasis will be given to current social and political issues, and the role played by such cultural activities as carnival, soccer and popular music. Different perceptions of Brazilian national identity that have emerged in the module of the twentieth century will be considered.

Special Features

The lectures and videos will provide you with basic information on the topics and issues covered, which you will be required to expand through your own reading and research. The seminars will allow you to hear different views of those topics and to develop your own ideas and arguments. The assignments will require you to analyse the questions, gathering the necessary information through independent research and developing your own argument. Feedback given in class and on the essays submitted will reinforce the acquisition of the planned learning outcomes.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures, supplemented by video material • Seminars based on group discussion Learning activities include • Developing ideas in response to questions raised in lectures and videos • Building an argument in response to questions set for assessed essays • Independent study Innovative or special features of this module • The central role of videos to promote investigation and discussion of topics

Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Wider reading or practice50
Completion of assessment task14
Follow-up work12
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

P. Chabal. ‘The End of Empire in Lusophone Africa: Portugal and the Anticolonial Wars, 1960-1974. 

C.R. Boxer. The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415-1825. 

J.M. Anderson. The History of Portugal. 

D.Birmingham. A Concise History o f Portugal. 

B. Fausto. A Concise history of Brazil. 

J. Rocha,. Brazil in Focus. 

J.H. Saraiva. Portugal: A Companion History. 

O.T. Almeida (1994). ‘Portugal and the Concern with National Identity. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. ,71 .

R. Levine. The History of Brazil. 

A. Klimt ‘European Space: Portuguese Migrants. Notions of Home and Belonging. Diaspora. ,9 .

J. Vincent. Culture and Customs of Brazil. 

P. Chabal. A History of Post-Colonial Lusophone Africa. 

C. MacLachan. A History of Modern Brazil: the Past against the Future. 

R. Levine and J.J. Crocitti. The Brazil Reader. 

T.Meade. A Brief History of Brazil. 

T. Gallagher. Portugal: A Twentieth-Century Interpretation. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • Seminar discussions • Individual feedback


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Essay 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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