Special Subject: The Civil Rights Movement Part A (V1378A)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

In both parts of this module we explore the emergence of a ‘long’ African American civil rights movement. We start by studying the broader societal forces that created the context for the movement, including the migration of millions of African Americans from rural to urban communities, and the impact of the Second World War both in eroding the cultural and intellectual legitimacy of White supremacy and raising Black expectations of claiming the full rights of citizenship. Although the personality of Martin Luther King, Jr. is central to the course, we will analyse the movement from the perspective not only of its leaders but also grassroots activists and evaluate the intellectual and institutionalforces that shaped movement activism, especially the role of Christianity.

In both module parts, we place the domestic struggle for civil rights in a broader global framework by assessing how international events impacted on American race relations such as the Cold War or the decolonisation of African and Asian nations. Overall, in this module, we focus in particular on the evolution of civil rights activism and the emergence of the Black Power, antipoverty, and welfare rights movements and the relationship between public policy, activism, and broader socio-economic and racial change in the post-New Deal U.S.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: