H380 South African Apartheid: Origins, Experience and Aftermath

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

This course examines the history of apartheid in twentieth-century South Africa. Using a combination of primary and secondary sources, the course traces the social, economic and intellectual origins of apartheid during the early decades of the twentieth century. The course further examines the nature of state policy and is especially concerned to investigate the lived experiences of black South Africans under apartheid rule; it concludes with an examination of the end of apartheid and the nature of post-apartheid South African society.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • understand the key differences between segregationist practices of the first half the twentieth century and apartheid policies of the period after the Second World War.
  • have an appreciation of the consequences of state policies on the lived experiences of 'ordinary people.'
  • understand the achievement and limitations of black resistance under apartheid
  • understand the achievements and limitations of political transformation
  • critically assess primary sources


A 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar per week

Scope and syllabus

  • Origins and nature of segregation during the early years of the twentieth century
  • African poverty and urbanisation.
  • The Great Depression and the interwar years
  • The rise and victory of Afrikaner nationalism
  • Consequences of the Second World War and the changing nature of urban labour
  • African urban communities during the 1950s
  • Apartheid in the countryside
  • Forced removals and their consequences
  • Black resistance and African nationalism
  • The long demise of the Apartheid state
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • The post-apartheid state
  • Black and white lives after apartheid

Method of assessment

  • 3 hr Exam (50%)
  • Primary source exercise, 1,000 words (10%)
  • 2,500 word essay (25%)
  • Source analysis, 1,000 words (15%)

Suggested reading

  1. Beinart, W. Twentieth-century South Africa (Oxford, 2001)
  2. Clarke, N.L and W.H. Worger, South Africa: the rise and fall of apartheid (Abingdon and New York, 2016)
  3. Ross, R. A concise history of South Africa (2nd edition, Cambridge, 2008)
  4. Ross, R. et al. (eds.). The Cambridge History of South Africa, volume 2 (Cambridge, 2011)
  5. Thompson, L. A history of South Africa (4th edition, New Haven and London, 2014)
  6. Worden, N. The making of modern South Africa: conquest, apartheid, democracy (5th edition, Hoboken, N.J. 2012)


Wayne Dooling


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