• Class Number 4118
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Mark Dawson
    • Dr Mark Dawson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

An introduction to Atlantic history and the study of the various socio-cultural, political, economic and material relationships which came to link Europe, Africa, and the Americas; their formation, mutual influence and impact, and, in some instances, transformation or dissolution. Principal themes will be how historians study premodern American peoples; why, and to what extent, many of these peoples were conquered by Europeans; European interactions with (changing) Native American and African societies; the rise of slavery and racism; the varied consequences for early modern European societies of global expansion.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Analyse primary sources and use them to reconstruct beliefs, ideas, and attitudes from the past;
  2. Articulate their understanding of the past and explain how that understanding relates to the wider historiography as well as present-day concerns;
  3. Construct evidence-based arguments about the consequences of the "discovery of the New World" for European, American, and African peoples; and,
  4. Evaluate continuity and change over time, with particular reference to globalization, a process often said to define modernity.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment


Required Resources


If you wish a wish a textbook-like overview of most of the course then, with a pinch of salt, the following may be of interest:

·       Benjamin, T., The Atlantic World. Europeans, Africans, Indians and Their Shared History, 1400-1900 (2009). D210 .B46 2009

·       Thornton, J., A Cultural History of the Atlantic World, 1250-1820 (2012). online

There are several works – some well-written narratives, others more specialized monographs or essay collections – on particular regions and aspects of the field. Many have recently been digitized as ebooks. These include:

Alconini, S. and A. Covey, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Inca (2018). online

Bethell, L., et al., The Cambridge History of Latin America (1984–1995). F1410.C1834 1984 (now online).

Burkholder, M.A., and L.L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America (1990–). F1412.B96 1990

Canny, N., & P. Morgan, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World (2012). D210.O94 2011 (now online).

Coffman, D. et al., eds, The Atlantic World (2015). online

Elliott, J.H., Empires of the Atlantic World. Britain and Spain in America 1492–1830 (2006). E18.82 .E44 2006 (now online).

Fage, J.D., et al., eds, The Cambridge History of Africa (1975–1986). DT20.C255 Menzies (now online).

 Green, T., A Fistful of Shells. West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (2019). pending

Nicholas, D. & E. Rodríguez-Alegría, eds, The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs (2017). online

Richter, D., Before the Revolution. America’s Ancient Pasts (2011).  E169.12.R497 2011 (now online).

Taylor, A., American Colonies. The Settling of North America (2002). E188 .T35 2002

Trigger, B.G., et al., The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas (1996–2000). E77 .N62 1996 and F1219 .M67 2000 and F2229 .S66 1999 (now online for North, Meso, and South Americas).

Vickers, D., ed., A Companion to Colonial America (2003). E187 .C75 2003 (now online).

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction First Expansion: why Spain? Introductions
2 Columbus Precolumbian America Research orientation
3 Columbian Exchange Aztec and Inca 1492
4 Conquest of the Spanish Indies: I Conquest of the Spanish Indies: II Precolumbian Americans
5 Europe and Africa; World Systems and Slaves Portugal, Brazil & the Rise of Plantation Agriculture Conquistadors
6 Colonial Society in Latin America: from the top down Colonial Society in Latin America: from the bottom up Africans
7 “Discovery” of the Americas Canada: Fish & Fur in the North Atlantic Understanding New Worlds
8 Virginia, and England as Colonial Latecomer New England’s Pilgrims & Puritans – America’s Ancestors? Research consultations
9 Caribbean Centrepiece Migrations in the Anglo-Atlantic English Expansion
10 North American Encounters French Empire in the American Interior Native North Americans
11 Africans in the Anglo-Atlantic Planting a Racial Slavery French Engagement
12 Imperial Implications for Britain tba Enslavement

Tutorial Registration

via Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Tutorial Participation 10 % * * 1, 2
Primary Source Analysis 15 % * * 1, 3
Topical Essay 35 % * * 2, 3, 4
Research Essay *or* Final Exam 40 % 10/06/2021 01/07/2021 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


See assessment



Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

Tutorial Participation

·       10% of the final grade.

·       Due: continuous. Participation in fewer than seven tutorials will result in a lower grade.

Each student will be expected to lead discussion at two tutorials as they relate to their written work. The remainder of the grade will be allocated on the basis of weekly contribution. Contributions can include, but are not limited to, critique of the week’s primary sources; comment on independent reading in the historiography; informed debate of the week’s focus questions.

Given the emphasis on participation, you may compensate for two absences from tutorials by providing written evidence of engagement with the week’s readings (e.g. a page of notes for the primary sources, or brief answers to focus questions posted on Wattle). 

If your circumstances (e.g. a chronic medical condition) otherwise prevent regular attendance and participation at tutorials, we should discuss alternative arrangements that might, for example, make use of a Wattle forum.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3

Primary Source Analysis

·       1000 words: 15% of the final grade.

·       Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle.

·       Due: an average of 7 days after the related tutorial discussion – see below for more information.

Students will choose one of the following four documents, an extract from which will be the subject of tutorial discussion in weeks 4–5 or 9–10. Your analysis should focus mainly on the extract. Students may not complete a primary source analysis relating to the same tutorial as their choice for the topical essay.

Tutorial W4–Florentine Codex [ed. Lockhart] Due Thursday 25 March (5pm)  

Tutorial W5–Cortés’ Letters [ed. Pagden & Elliott] Due Thursday 01 April (5pm)

Tutorial W9–Hakluyt’s Discourse [eds. Quinn & Quinn] Due Thursday 13 May (5pm)

Tutorial W10–Carheil’s Correspondence [ed. Kenton] Due Thursday 20 May (5pm)

Assessment Task 3

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4

Topical Essay

·       2000 words: 35% of final grade.

·       Due: approximately 7 days after the relevant tutorial discussion in weeks 3–6, or 9. See below for essay questions and related due dates.

·       Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle.

·       Return of graded assessment: 2 weeks post submission.

Students will choose one of the following questions, each of which will be the subject of tutorial discussion. 

v  Tutorial W3–In what ways were Christopher Columbus’ trans-Atlantic voyages merely a way for him to become a conquistador? Due Thursday 18 March (5pm)

v  Tutorial W4–In what ways did language, and with it history, become a tool of European empire in the New World?[1] Due Thursday 25 March (5pm)  

v  Tutorial W5–It is anachronistic to think of the conquests of the Spanish Indies[2] as the inevitable triumph of armies of white invaders. Discuss. Due Thursday 01 April (5pm)

v  Tutorial W6–What were the consequences of enslavement for West African[3] societies and polities, c.1450–1650?  Due Thursday 08 April (5pm)

v  Tutorial W9–What were the main motivations for English settlement in North America (c.1580–1650)? Due Thursday 13 May (5pm)

Students may consult the course convenor about modification of the set question but usually not the general topic. Your other interests should be pursued in the research essay. 

[1] Naturally enough we will examine the early Spanish example. Within what becomes the “Latin American” context your essay might focus on eitherMexico or Peru. Adventurous essayists, could, if they wished, draw upon case-studies dealing with other early modern European encounters.

[2] Tutorial discussion will concentrate on what became Mexico. Essayists may however elect to focus on another Spanish conquest(s) in the Americasduring the sixteenth century.

[3] Note that this essay does not require in-depth consideration of all of western Africa. Essentially, the question asks that you identify broad trends (from the tutorial readings and material described as ‘general’ or an ‘overview’) and then illustrate them with reference to some of the local case studies listed.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 10/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Research Essay *or* Final Exam

Research Essay

·       2500 words: 40% of final grade.

·       Due: Thursday 10 June (5pm).

·       Presentation requirements: double-line spaced on numbered A4 pages in doc. or docx. format. A sample grading rubric will be available on Wattle. 

·       Return of graded assessment: 1 July, following publication of final results.

Students must first submit a short, written proposal for their tutor’s feedback and approval. While the proposal itself will not be worth any part of the final grade, essays submitted without this approval will not be marked.

Students who do not have an approved essay question by 30 April will instead be assumed candidates for the Final Exam. 

Final Exam

·       2.5 hours, closed book: 40% of final grade.

·       Candidates will be expected to write two shorter essays on questions and/or primary sources discussed in tutorials. Candidates will not be able to reproduce coursework essays.

·       Due: given usual small numbers, the exam will be conducted by the School/course convenor rather than the Examinations Office. Candidates should therefore expect that the exam will be scheduled on the same day as the due date for the alternative final option – the Research Essay. Candidates should also assume that it will be feasible to conduct the exam on-campus according to any social distancing regulations still in force. If those regulations should preclude an on-campus examination, the course convenor reserves the right to modify the exam format for online delivery.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

via Wattle/Turnitin

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Not permitted

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Mark Dawson

Research Interests

Early modern Anglo/European social and cultural history

Dr Mark Dawson

By Appointment
Dr Mark Dawson

Research Interests

Dr Mark Dawson

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions