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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Rights Revolution: American Society and the Supreme Court, c.1935-c.1990 (HIST10111)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaHistory Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe course begins with an introduction to the American judiciary and with a chronological overview of key developments in the history of protections for individual rights and group rights between about 1935 and about 1990. The approach is then thematic, with investigations of key issues such as race, civil liberties during times of war, gender equality, defendants' rights, capital punishment, privacy, gay rights, and abortion. (The list of issues may vary from year to year.) For each issue, the course investigates key Supreme Court cases, and it explores reactions to them among the public, among interest groups, and among politicians. The course includes a sampling of work by prominent theorists about the issue in question. The final part of the course discusses conclusions about the origins of the 'rights revolution' and its overall impact on American politics and society.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The American Civil Rights Movement (HIST10155)
Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Directors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503783).
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will have an effective understanding of a diverse, but related, set of issues in American society, greatly important and unceasingly controversial. The context for this understanding will be, most notably, that of their treatment by the Supreme Court and that of their historical development. They will examine the role of the Constitution in American society and they will consider the place of the Supreme Court as an engine - or a facilitator - of social change. The course seeks to illuminate how groups and individuals initiate activity, whether successful or unsuccessful, in support of a particular goal. From a historiographical perspective, students will assess the effectiveness of this institution-centred approach, thus meeting a question of interest to many historians of the United States. In addition, through their reading of selected works by contemporary theorists, students will think about how historians should handle these texts. Through their studies in this course, students will develop further the historical skills that they amassed during earlier courses in history. They will learn more about how to read both secondary literature and primary sources, and about how to draw conclusions from them. On the basis of this work, they will assemble arguments and interpretations of their own, then communicate these through written and oral means, and respond to the arguments and interpretations of others.
Assessment Information
One essay of about 3000 words (one third of overall assessment); one two-hour examination paper (two-thirds of overall assessment).
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Robert Mason
Tel: (0131 6)50 3770
Course secretaryMs Marie-Therese Rafferty
Tel: (0131 6)50 3780
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