SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H294 - Race, Segregation, and Apartheid in Twentieth-century South Africa

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/2023
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

This course is concerned with South Africa's tumultuous twentieth-century history. It commences with the reconstruction of the South African state following the end of the South African War (1899-1902), and examines the respective origins and consequences of formal segregation (1910s - 1930s) and apartheid (1940s - 1980s). It is especially concerned with the ways in which ordinary Africans negotiated daily life within the strictures of these forms state repression. A significant part of the course is concerned with the emergence of African nationalism, resistance to apartheid, and the collapse of the apartheid state at the end of the twentieth century, a conflict that engulfed all of southern Africa.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • understand the nature of the South African state that emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century
  • understand the history of segregation as a discrete historical period
  • understand the origins of apartheid and its impact on the daily lives of Africans
  • understand the changing ways in which scholars have written about the South African past. 

Scope and syllabus

Reconstruction following the South African war; the emergence of segregation; the Great Depression and socio-economic change; the rise of African and Afrikaner nationalism; the rise of apartheid; popular culture in the age of segregation; the transformation of African nationalism and the rise of Black Consciousness; everyday life under apartheid rule; the demise of the apartheid state; Truth and Reconciliation; post-apartheid South Africa.

Method of assessment

  • Response paper to a primary source (300 words) at 20%
  • Response paper to secondary reading (700 words) at 30%
  • One Essay (3,000 words) at 50%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules