Race, Segregation, and Apartheid in Twentieth-century South Africa (PG)

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History

Module overview

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 this course students should:

  • 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.


2 hours of classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar.

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; post-apartheid South Africa.

Method of assessment

  • reaction paper/book review of 1,000 words worth 20% of the final mark due in week 7 of term 2
  • an essay of 3,000 words worth 80% of the final mark due week 1 of term 3.

Suggested reading

Introductory bibliography

  • Alexander, J. et al, Violence and Memory: One Hundred Years in the Dark Forests of Matabeleland (Oxford, 2000);
  • Bhebe, N. and T. Ranger (eds.), Society in Zimbabwe's Liberation War (Oxford, 1996);
  • Chabal, P. et al, A history of postcolonial Lusophone Africa (London, 2002);
  • Cooper, F. Africa since 1940 (Cambridge, 2002);
  • Hanlon, J. Beggar your Neighbours: Apartheid Power in Southern Africa (London, 1986);
  • Hanlon, J. Mozambique: Who calls the Shots? (London, 1991);
  • Newitt, M. History of Mozambique (London, 1995);
  • O'Meara, D. Forty Lost Years (Johannesburg, 1996);
  • Ross, R. A concise History of South Africa (Cambridge, 1999);
  • Van Binsbergen, W. Tears of rains: Ethnicity and History in central western Zambia (London, 1992);
  • Vaughan, M. The story of an African Famine: Gender and Famine in twentieth-century Malawi (Cambridge, 1987);
  • Vaughan, O. Chiefs, Power and Social Change: Chiefship and Modern Politics in Botswana, 1880s-1990s (Trenton, N.J., 2003).


Wayne Dooling


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