South Africa: The Road to Apartheid

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
20 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module explains how South Africa took the 'apartheid turn' but it also demonstrates how the country had long been on a road of increasing racial discrimination. The core of this module is the historical experience of South Africa from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, when the National Party came to power on its apartheid platform.

Apartheid became notorious in the latter half of the twentieth century as a byword for racial discrimination and oppression. Although it was particularly associated with state policy in South Africa from the mid-twentieth century onwards, it built upon foundations laid earlier and was, in many ways, a repressive response to a movement for black rights led by people such as Nelson Mandela.

The topics traversed include: the role of British imperialism in the founding of the South African state; the particularities of the country's economic development; Afrikaner and African nationalism; the consolidation of segregation; the experience and struggles of peasants and workers.

Module aims

The aim of the course is to give students a thorough understanding of the long term processes and struggles that gave rise to increasing racial discrimination and, ultimately, to the apartheid state in South Africa. It aims to overturn common assumptions about South Africa such as those which attribute the country's institutionalisation of racism merely to the alleged peculiarities of its 'white tribe', the Afrikaners. Another objective is to demonstrate the importance of key popular struggles, and the state's response to them, in shaping South African history. The course also seeks to elucidate general theories - for example, those pertaining to nationalism or social transformation - through their application to, and illustration by, South African material.

Module learning outcomes

Students will understand the complex forces that led to the development of the racial order in South Africa; they will be able to assess how a range of movements and struggles moulded South African history; students should also be able to apply what they have learned (for example, about the origins of a particular war, or the nature of nationalism, or the emergence of a working class) to other contexts.

Module information

General reading list:

Beinart, W., Twentieth-Century South Africa.

Mandela, Nelson., Long Walk To Freedom.

Worden, N., The Making of Modern South Africa.

(N.B. In all cases, please focus on material covering the late-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and seminars.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Document analysis (1500 words) 28/11/2019 30%
Coursework Essay (3000 words) 15/01/2020 70%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Jeremy Krikler
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Simon Rofe
University of London
Reader in Diplomatic and International Studies
Available via Moodle
Of 30 hours, 29 (96.7%) hours available to students:
1 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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