BA Spanish and Portuguese

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Reading the Rain Forest: Visions of the Amazon

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA30801
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, home to almost half of the world’s living species and hundreds of indigenous cultures. From the time when the first Europeans sailed the waters of the Amazon river, the region has also captivated the imagination of travelers, businessmen, scientists, writers, and artists from other regions. With the independence of Brazil in the 19th century, the Amazon became the subject of frontier disputes, often playing a contradictory role in the new nation’s quest for identity: it was the “savage”, “uncivilized” territory that brought both shame and pride to nationalist discourses of all ideologies, which alternated between calling it an “earthly paradise”, and “green hell”. This course will examine how the Amazon is portrayed in a variety of media and genres: indigenous narratives, travel-writing, literature, and film.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Portuguese Language 5 SPLA52050 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Pre/Co/Antirequisite units

Pre-requisite - SPLA52040 Portuguese Language 4

Co-requisite - SPLA52050 Portuguese Language 5 (or equivalent)

Free choice Yes, as long as the student has adequate knowledge of Portuguese
Available on which programme(s)? SPLAS, Portuguese
Medium of language English and Portuguese



Knowledge and understanding

  • Have a better understanding of the history of the Amazon region
  • Have a better knowledge about the Amazonian environment
  • Have a better understanding of social conflicts in the Amazonian region
  • Have a better understanding of how different discourses about the Amazon have been constructed

Intellectual skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Display cultural analytical skills (literary analysis, film analysis, and analysis of colonial and ecological history).

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear enhancement in their Portuguese vocabulary

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate independent and critical thinking
  • Demonstrate ability to present material and ideas individually and collectively in oral and written form.
  • An ability to participate in group discussions
  • An ability to participate in internet discussions


Employability skills

- Improved command of Portuguese - Independent and critical thinking - Ability to express ideas and plans in writing - Knowledge of environmental issues - Ability to read and interpret written and visual works - Team work - Ability to create online presentations - Ability to participate on online discussions - Ability to do oral presentations to a group

Assessment methods

Assessment task Weighting within unit (if Summative)
Essay 1 25%
Essay 2 50%
Group Presentations 15%
Active contribution to internet forum on current Amazonian topics. 10%

Resit Assessment

Assessment task

Feedback methods

  • written feedback on presentations  
  • written feedback on essays 
  • written feedback on class participation 
  • written feedback on contribution to discussion forum 
  • additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment) 

Recommended reading

  • Hecht, Susana, and Alexander Cockburn. The Fate of the Forest. Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon. Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2011.
  • Slater, Candace. Entangled Edens: Visions of the Amazon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Lucia Sa Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Please check your ‘My Manchester’ timetables for days/times.  Any queries can be directed to or the Languages Student Information Office.

This module must be passed with a minimum overall mark of 40% in order to progress. 

Following successful completion of the first part of this course, it is strongly recommended that students continue working on their independent learning dossier over the Christmas vacation and the January examination period.    



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