ATS2107 - Colonial America: From puritans to revolutionaries - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit



Dr Joshua Specht

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


The discovery of the Americas is considered to have been one of the most pivotal events in human history, opening up literally a whole "New World" to Europeans and transforming economy and society forever. Beginning at that moment of first contact in the late 15th century, this unit will trace the evolution of colonial practice in North America through comparisons between Spanish, French, and British colonial endeavours. In particular it will focus on the major settler colonial centres of New England, Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake in the 17th and 18th centuries. It will also analyse the origins and unfolding of the "British Colonial Civil War" from 1776-1815, which encompassed the American Revolution (1776-1783), the creation of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights (1783-1790), and the American theatre of the Napoleonic Wars known as the War of 1812. Finally, it will conclude with a broader contextualization of the new colonial project of the United States in the so-called Age of Revolutions, when former colonies in the Caribbean and the Americas decolonized and established their independence.


  1. Students will learn to undertake primary source research in conjunction with secondary sources and use them to craft an historical argument. They will understand the differences between the 2 types of sources and be able to make arguments that reflect these differences.
  2. Students will improve their written communication skills. They will particularly focus on unpacking and elaborating alternative meanings for sources, as well as learn how to read against Colonizer sources to find a usable Indigenous past.
  3. Students will learn to participate in detailed and reciprocal intellectual discussion and debate thereby improving their oral communication skills.
  4. Students will learn how to create a persuasive and informative oral presentation.
  5. Students will gain a broader and more nuanced understanding of the motivations, praxis, and structures of colonial projects in North America and how they have influenced present-day political realities.
  6. Students will improve their factual knowledge of Early America, particularly of the cultures and laws underlying colonial endeavours.
  7. Students will also learn how to read and take notes more effectively.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

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This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.