Module Identifier SP23020  
Module Title THE SPANISH AMERICAN EMPIRE, 1492-1824  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Rosa Vidal Doval  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite Eligibility for entry to Level 2 (see Aims)  
Course delivery Lecture   10 x 1-hour lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 1-hour seminars  
  Workload Breakdown   Lecture and seminar attendance - 20 hours; lecture and seminar preparation (research and reading) - 100 hours; essay research and preparation - 45 hours; text commentary research and preparation - 35  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours 2-hour examination (2 essay questions, equally weighted)60%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment 1 x 2,500-word essay20%
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment 1 x 1,500-word essay source commentary10%
Semester Assessment Seminar performance10%
Supplementary Assessment2/3 Hours 1 x 2-hour examination if continuous assessment submitted. 1 x 3-hour examination if no continuous assessment submitted.100%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Enter historiographical debates concerning the study of the Spanish empire in the Americas;
2. Understand the historical background to current ideas about Latin America's colonial past;
3. Show familiarity with the key methods employed by historians to study pre-colonial and colonial societies;
4. Be acquainted with a variety of historical primary sources and have developed their interpretative skills accordingly;
5. Engage critically with a variety of scholarly material including monographs and specialised articles;
6. Present their findings in a logical, organised and scholarly fashion both orally - through debates and presentations - and in written form - through essays and text commentaries.


This module provides an overview of the history of the Spanish conquest and domination of Latin America. It will introduce Level 2 students to historiographical debates, issues of translation bettween languages and cultures, and the use of historical sources in their original language.
The module is open to students in Spanish but also to students from other academic disciplines (e.g., History, English, Geography ...). Students studying Spanish must read primary sources in Spanish while all others will work with the same texts in translation. This will apply both to seminars and the texts proposed for assessed text commentary.

Brief description

This course studies the Spanish discovery, conquest and colonisation of the Americas from its late medieval roots to the independence movements that followed the Napoleonic Wars in the early nineteenth century. This study will be placed in the wider context of Spain's global empire as the first political superpower of the early modern period.
The course will provide an overview of the events and main historiographical debates in lectures. A series of seminars - based around work on primary sources in the original language - will allow students to explore events and debates in depth as well as to develop the skills associated with the study of history as an academic discipline.


The module is structured around five main themes:
1. Expansion and discovery: the European colonial expansion in the late Middle Ages (the commercial revolution, scientific developments, early voyages of exploration, Columbus's voyages).
2. Conquest: the conquest of Aztec and Inca empires.
3. Colonisation: the systems of governance and the role of the Americas in the Spanish global empire.
4. Colonial society: political, social and cultural developments in the Spanish Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries.
5. Independence: the movement for independence in Latin America in the 19th century.

Module Skills

Problem_solving Selection of reading material; answering questions posed by written assessment; seminar work.  
Research skills Preparation of written assessment; preparation for seminars.  
Communication Oral communication developed in seminars; written communication.  
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to assess their own progress week by week through their increased understanding of the issues raised and the skills developed.  
Team work Debates and group presentations in seminars.  
Information Technology Use of on-line journals and source collections; delivery of course materials and information via email and e-learning system.  
Application of Number Evaluation of statistical data in the sources and secondary reading.  
Personal Development and Career planning Acquisition of transferable skills; in-depth acquaintance with history as an academic subject.  
Subject Specific Skills Acquisition of pre-modern Spanish vocabulary.  


This module is at CQFW Level 5