Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The American Civil War
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. To investigate the impact of Civil War upon different social groups and upon the wider social, economic, and political development of the United States
2. To evaluate the changing dynamics of race, gender, and class relations in the United States during the exigencies of war
3. To acquaint students with a wide variety of primary sources appropriate to the study of the period
4. To introduce students to some of the most important scholarly debates in the field

Brief description

The American Civil War was a momentous event in the history of the United States, a national catastrophe in which 620,000 lost their lives, but a democratic triumph resulting in the abolition of slavery and the granting of citizenship to African Americans. It continues to be a subject that fascinates historians and the public alike. What were the causes of this conflict? Why was compromise impossible to maintain? What was the impact of war upon American society? Was it possible to bring the two sides back together into one union? How does the experience of Civil War continue to shape America in the present?


The module aims to provide students with an understanding of the Civil War, that causes and impact of the conflict, and the historiographical debates surrounding it.


1. Introduction.
2. The Antebellum North and South.
3. Westward Expansion, the Market Revolution, and slavery.
4. Crises of the 1850s.
5. Secession and the outbreak of war.
6. The course of the Civil War.
7. The Civil War in the North: War and economy.
8. The Civil War in the North: Popular protest.
9. The Civil War in the South: The Confederate war effort.
10. The Civil War in the South: Confederate control or state control?
11. Soldiers in the Civil War.
12. Black soldiers.
13. Emancipation.
14. The end of the Civil War.
15. The politics of Reconstruction.
16. African Americans in the Reconstructing South.
17. The end of Reconstruction and Redemption.
18. The Civil War in Historical Memory.

1. Introduction - Antebellum America.
2. The Origins of the Civil War.
3. Sectional crises and secession.
4. The Northern experience in the Civil War.
5. The Confederacy.
6. Soldiers.
7. African Americans and emancipation.
8. The politics of Reconstruction.
9. African Americans in Reconstruction.
10. The legacy of the Civil War.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will be encouraged to actively engage in seminar discussions, exploring a range of theoretical and historiographical issues, although this will not be assessed. They will also have to listen and take notes during lectures.
Improving own Learning and Performance Detailed feedback will be provided for essays, and students will be encouraged to use this in their overall development.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they begin to consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students will be expected to engage with a range of historiographical questions, and solve problems dealing with the study of the American Civil War.
Research skills Students will be required to read a wide range of texts and evaluate their usefulness to specific research questions. Research for coursework and the written examination will help them improve their research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop skills in the interpretation of the complex historiography of the American Civil War and will be encouraged to explore the numerous causes and consequences of the conflict.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6