Documenting Dissent: Power, Protest, and Social Justice in the Twentieth Century module (HY52031)

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Module code


  • An introduction to concepts of power and social justice.
  • African American Radical Protest: The Black Panther Party
  • Prisoners' Right in the USA: From Reform to Abolition
  • A Global History of 1968
  • Dissent and Protest in the Archives
  • The Civil Rights Movement and the Origins of the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'
  • The British Anti-apartheid Movement and the Struggle to end White Minority Rule in South Africa

The Women's Liberation Movement: Feminism from the Late 1960s to the early 1980s.'


The researching and writing of a 4000 word essay will require students to draw upon their knowledge and understanding of various movements for social justice. By identifying their own research question, students will be required to conduct independent research of both primary and secondary sources; they will also be required to recognize and critique areas of historiographical debate. The writing of the essay will require students to analyse a range of material, to construct a clear argument, and to communicate their ideas effectively.

The delivery of a 20 minute presentation on their chosen area of research will build upon the work that has been undertaken throughout the module, and will focus upon an area of historiographical debate. It will test a student’s ability to situate their research within a broader historiographical context. It will test their ability to analyse and evaluate historians’ research, to identify key areas of debate, and communicate their findings orally.

Both pieces of coursework will test students’ bibliographical and library skills. 

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • Students will gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the varied ways that marginalised groups have mobilised to challenge prevailing social attitudes, and to demand a redistribution of political, cultural, or social capital.
  • Students will analyse some of the factors that influence social change, including race, gender, and class.
  • Students will critically assess concepts of power and social justice, and political mobilisation.
  • Students will apply a comparative perspective to identify common themes in movements for social and political change.
  • Students will have a greater appreciation of the methodological challenges involved in researching the history of marginalised groups and protest movements.



Subject-specific practical and intellectual skills and attributes.

  • Students undertaking this module will be required to read, understand and critique historical arguments.
  • Students will be required to analyse and evaluate historians’ use of evidence, and to evaluate opposing historical interpretations.
  • Students will develop a detailed understanding and knowledge of areas of historiographical debate.
  • By examining a range of case studies, students will develop an understanding of core themes in the history of political protest and movements for social justice.


This module explores the relationship between protest movements, political mobilisation, and campaigns for social justice throughout the twentieth century.  The module’s aims are:

  • To introduce students to a range of movements for social justice and political mobilisation during the twentieth century.
  • To explore the factors that influence social and political change.
  • To critically analyse concepts of power and social justice.
  • To address the role that race, gender, and class have played in shaping political protest and movements for social justice.
  • To develop a comparative perspective on movements for social justice on a global scale. 
  • To explore the challenges that historians face when researching the history of marginalised groups and protest movements.


Dr Zoe Colley


The teaching methods on this module are designed to equip students with the necessary skills to develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of political protest and movements for social justice across the twentieth century. Each week will focus upon a case study, which will provide students with a comparative perspective upon this history. Students will be assigned weekly reading and research tasks, which will act as the basis for class discussion. This will enable students to develop their ability to critique historical research and analyse trends in historiography. Class discussion will also support the development of students’ oral communication skills.