BA Italian and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Cultures of the Hispanic World

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA10410
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit combines an introduction to the literatures, cultures and histories of the Spanish-speaking world, from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, with the development of intellectual and analytical tools necessary for the study of Spanish at university level. It furnishes students with a solid basis for further studies by providing them with both the basic background knowledge about Spain and Spanish America, and the skills for analysis, academic writing and independent research necessary for making the most out of second- and final-year options. The course focuses on the analysis of texts, images and film within their cultural context through a combination of lectures, which offer an introduction to relevant developments and background, and seminars, centred on the application of the skills acquired to the close examination of cultural artefacts covering a broad spectrum of genres and language styles and registers. 


Available on: All programmes with Spanish

Medium of Language: English (with seminar materials in Spanish for post-A level students)


  • To introduce students to the cultures, literatures and histories of the Hispanic world (including Amerindian, Chicano, Filipino and Catalan) 
  • To hone students’ skills of analysis, academic writing and independent research 
  • To aid the study of Spanish language and culture in a range of contexts     


Indicative topics to be covered include:

Multicultural Spain: from Al-Andalus to the conquest of Granada

Spain and the New World: the Encounter and the fall of the Aztec and Inca empires

Early modern Spain: Empire and Golden Age culture

Early modern Spanish America: Mestizaje and Casta paintings

The collapse of Spain’s American empire

State- and Nation-Building in Spanish America

Fin de siècle Spain and Spanish America: the Generation of ’98 and Spanish American vanguards

Social conflict: the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War

Dictatorship and memory politics in Latin America

Challenges and opportunities of democracy in post-Transition Spain

Please note that this list is only indicative and topics may change from year to year. 

Teaching and learning methods

The course is organised chronologically and divided into 11 units. Each unit consists of two lectures and an associated seminar. The two lectures for each unit take place on odd weeks and the seminars on even weeks to give students a chance to digest the content of lectures and prepare for seminar activities.  

Lectures provide basic, subject-specific knowledge about the Spanish world, and introduce analytical concepts.  

Seminars focus on skill development but are firmly grounded on material related to what was covered on the previous lectures. Seminars are divided in three big blocks: library/research skills, analysing specific kinds of sources (plays, images, narrative, poetry, film), and academic writing.  

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

  • Demonstrated basic knowledge and understanding of the historical periodization of the Spanish world 
  • Show familiarity with selected cultural and literary works from Spain and Spanish America 
  • Evince competence in understanding, analysing and discussing selected cultural objects in relation to their social, cultural and historical context 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will have: 

  • Further developed their Spanish language competence through reading and viewing a range of Spanish and Spanish American cultural objects 
  • Improved their capacity to read critically 
  • Increased their ability to interpret, analyse and synthesise information 

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will have furthered their ability to: 

  • Analyse and differentiate between various types of literary and visual media 
  • Gather, organise and deploy evidence and information in writing an essay 
  • Use the library to find appropriate physical and electronic resources and reference them correctly 
  • Construct and sustain arguments coherently 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will have furthered their ability to: 

  • Express themselves confidently in English, both orally and in writing 
  • Manage time and work to deadlines 
  • Participate in group discussions and assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others 
  • Present information, ideas and arguments orally and in writing with due regard to the target audience 

Employability skills

The course will be useful for students considering a career in Spain or Spanish America, or with organisations that deal with Spanish-speaking countries, particularly in the cultural heritage sector (e.g. museums, libraries or archives).

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeWighting within Unit (If Summative)
ACW1: Individual written task Formative and Summative30%
ACW2: Group portfolioFormative and Summative30%
ACW3: Final essayFormative and Summative40%


Resit Assessment:



Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

Oral feedback on seminar participation 



Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment) 



Written feedback on review essay, short analysis and commentary.  


Formative and Summative. Feedback received on these is meant to help in preparing the essay. 

Written feedback on essay.  



Recommended reading

Castro, Juan E. de. 2002. Mestizo Nations: Culture, Race, and Conformity in Latin American Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press) 

Chasteen, John Charles. 2016. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America (New York: WWNorton and Company, 2016) 

Elliott, J. H. 2002. Imperial Spain (1469-1716) (London: Penguin) 

Gies, David Thatcher (ed.). 1999. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Spanish Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 

Hatfield, Charles Dean. 2015. The Limits of Identity: Politics and Poetics in Latin America (Austin: University of Texas Press) 

Payne, Stanley G. 2012. The Spanish Civil War (New York: Cambridge University Press) 

Phillips, William D. 2010. A Concise History of Spain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 

Swanson, Philip. 2014. The Companion to Latin American Studies (London: Taylor and Francis) 

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Luis Castellvi Laukamp Unit coordinator

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