Understanding transatlantic slavery

Transatlantic slavery was responsible for the forced migration and enslavement of more than 12 million people from Africa to the Americas over hundreds of years. The impact of this is complex and far reaching, and understanding it is challenging but essential.

This workshop will enable students to get hands-on with museum objects and use these unique resources to explore the impact on those involved, including enslaved Africans and people in Liverpool.

Workshop details

Students will be guided through a series of hands-on activities with historical sources and museum artefacts to aid and deepen their understanding of transatlantic slavery.

They will work in five separate groups to explore key topics including forced migration, enslavement on the plantation, resistance as well as abolition. Students will be encouraged to discuss and present their findings, and consider how they connect to contemporary issues such as racism.

This unique learning experience illustrates the massive impact of transatlantic slavery on the world and the ways it still impacts on our lives today.

Important note to teachers

Optional pre-visit activities and resources are available to complement this workshop. They offer important context and guidance for teachers and pupils. The resources challenge pre-existing misconceptions, explore life in Africa before transatlantic slavery, teach appropriate terminology, and outline a code of conduct for respectful engagement with sensitive content. We provide a straightforward lesson plan and all necessary resources to do this as downloadable pdfs. 

We also offer teachers optional post-workshop follow up activities to consolidate pupils learning on the subject matter covered. As with the pre-workshop activity, a lesson plan and resources are provided as downloadable pdfs at the top of this page.

Practical information for your visit

Visiting the International Slavery Museum - information for groups (pdf)

Image © Dave Jones

Curriculum links


  • How people’s lives have been shaped by Britain and how this nation has influenced and been influenced by the wider world.
  • Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, including its effects and its eventual abolition.

OCR History A

Impact of Empire on Britain 1688-1730 Depth Study

The involvement of the British population in the transatlantic slave trade including:

  • the development of ‘slave ports’ – Bristol, Liverpool, London;
  • growth of ideas of a racial hierarchy and impact of these ideas on settled minority communities;
  • opposition to slavery and the slave trade.

AQA History

Paper 2: Shaping the Nation

Britain: Power and the people: 1170 to the present day

  • Protest and change: campaigning groups and their methods and impact, including the Anti-Slavery movement.

Britain: Migration, empires and the people: c790 to the present day

  • Sugar and the Caribbean: piracy and plunder; the development of the slave trade, the economic and social impact of the slave trade on Britain.


  • The precious liberties enjoyed by the citizens of the United Kingdom
  • The ways in which citizens can work together to improve their communities

Fundamental British Values


  • Pupils take a role in group discussion and debate.
  • Pupils work collaboratively and contribute to group decisions about evidence.

Individual liberty

  • Pupils are encouraged to voice opinions appropriately, as well as listen to and respect the opinions of others.

Tolerance and mutual respect 

  • Build an understanding of respect, tolerance and freedom, as well as individual and collective responsibilities to protecting fundamental rights.
  • Enable students to contribute to a more welcoming, tolerant and inclusive environment.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Understand the significance of the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on today’s society.


Pupils will:

  • Use historical terms and concepts in a sophisticated and empathetic way.
  • Identify significant events, make connections and draw contrasts.
  • Analyse primary sources, including reliability and bias.
  • Listen and collaborate to discuss and present findings.


Pupils will:

  • Be introduced to artefacts in a museum context and as primary sources of investigation.
  • Recognise cause and consequence.


Pupils will:

  • Increase confidence in identifying and challenging racism.