Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 5 seminars plus essay tutorials of varying length


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 2,500 WORD ESSAYS  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   2 HOUR 2 QUESTION CLOSED EXAMINATION  70%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Assess critically the body of historical knowledge which discusses the European tradition of voyages of discovery, with particular focus on the discovery and conquest of the Americas, in its wider social and political contexts.

Comprehend and assess the different historical debates and analyses evident in related texts, ranging from the Middle Ages to recent scholarly works.

Assess the continuing impact of European settlement in South and Central America and Mexico.

Read, analyse and assess a range of different types of historical evidence relevant to the module, including appropriate literary evidence.

Comprehend the historical debates and problems regarding the impact of European settlement on native American society.

Express with increased confidence understanding and discuss related issues through writing in an academic context.

Work independently and as part of a group and take an active part in group discussions (not formally assessed)

Brief description

This module will focus on the discovery and conquest of South and Central America, and Mexico, discussing the careers of individuals like Columbus and Cortes. In doing so, it will provide an introductory history of the pre-conquest Americas, with particular focus on the Aztecs, the Maya and the Incas, assessing the impact of the contacts between the conquerors and the conquered, tying the results of this assessment into the wider context of contacts between peoples and cultures.


This module is intended to provide an introduction to the European tradition of voyages of discovery during the medieval and early modern period, focusing on the conquest of the Americas during the late fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. It will thus cover a currently unavailable area of history teaching in the department, introducing students to the history of medieval and early modern Europe, as well as looking beyond the immediate confines of western Christendom and discuss issues of lasting relevance, such as cross-cultural settlement.


1. Introduction I: the European tradition of voyages of discovery before Columbus
2. Introduction II: Europe in the fifteenth century
3. Columbus I: the first voyage
4. Columbus II: later voyages
5. The conquest of the mainland
6. The Maya
7. The Aztecs
8. The Conquest of Mexico I
9. The Conquest of Mexico II
10. The Incas and their ancestors
11. The Conquest of Peru I: Cajamarca
12. The Conquest of Peru II: Cuzco
13. The Conquest of Peru III: the legacy
14. Exploiting the land: Bolivia ? Potosi
15. The Spanish exploration of North America
16. The discovery of the Amazon river
17. Colonising Brazil
18. Conclusions: conquests

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Read a wide range of both primary and secondary texts; improve their listening skills during the lectures, and consequently develop skills in note taking; demonstrate and develop the ability to communicate ideas in two essays; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars.
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs; devise and apply realistic learning and self management strategies; devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals and to develop personal awareness of how to improve on these.
Information Technology Use a range of commonly used software packages; prepare and input data; manage storage systems; present information and data; use the internet appropriately and effectively.
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course in progression; plan and prepare for future course / career.
Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.
Research skills Understand a range of research methods and plan and carry out research; produce academically appropriate pieces of written work.
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different medieval sources, including Maya chronicles and Spanish accounts of the conquests (translations provided); develop the ability to use appropriate historical research tools effectively.
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamics; contribute to the setting of group goals; contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars); exercise negotiation and persuasion skills; evaluate group activities and own contribution.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Coe, Michael D (1980) The Maya London : Thames & Hudson Primo search Cortés, H (2001) Letters from Mexico New Haven : London : Yale Nota Bene, Primo search Gibson, Charles (1966.) Spain in America New York ; London : Harper & Row Primo search Hemming, John (1970.) The conquest of the Incas London : Macmillan Primo search Keen, Benjamin (ed.) (1996) Latin American Civilisation : History and Society, 1492 to the present Boulder, Colo : Westview Press Primo search Moseley, Michael E. (c1992.) The Incas and their ancestors : Thames and Hudson Primo search Williamson, Edwin. (1992.) The Penguin history of Latin America Allen Lane Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4