H280 Atlantic Slavery and its Legacies in Western Africa

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

This module introduces students to the history and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa from Senegambia down to Angola from ca. 1500 to the present.

It gives a political and economic understanding of key developments and of social and cultural change and continuity. Students will explore the causes of the transatlantic slave trade, and the consequences of involvement in the trade for West African societies. The consequences of the abolition of slavery and local and global legacies of the slave trade will also be considered.


  • This Module is capped at 50 places
  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes

  • identify and explain the significance of key historical events and developments in Western Africa during the era of the Atlantic slave trade;
  • understand the consequences and legacies of the Atlantic slave trade for the states and societies of present day Western Africa;
  • critically read the secondary literature on the Atlantic slave trade and understand the different historiographies concerning it;
  • work responsibly and where appropriate collaboratively to further their skills in researching and writing historical essays, delivering seminar presentations and thinking critically about historical issues.

Method of assessment

  • Response paper 300 words, 20% of final mark.
  • Response paper 700 words, 30% of final mark.
  • Essay 3,000 words, 50% of final mark.

Suggested reading

  • S. Diouf ed.: Fighting the Slave Trade: West African strategies (2004)
  • D. Eltis: Economic Growth & the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (1987)
  • J. Inikori ed.: Forced Migration: the impact of the export slave trade on African societies (1982)
  • Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: a study of international trade and economic development (2002)
  • H.S. Klein: The Atlantic Slave Trade (1999)
  • P. Lovejoy: Transformations in Slavery: a history of slavery in Africa (2 edn., 2000)
  • T. Falola eds.: Pawnship, Slavery & Colonialism in Africa (2003)
  • P. Manning: Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental & African Slave Trades (1990)
  • C. Meillassoux: The Anthropology of Slavery: the womb of iron and gold (1991)
  • J. Thornton: Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World (2 edn., 1998)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules