HST119: The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to the present

20 credits (semester 2)

Module Leader: Dr Colin Reid



Module Summary

This module explores the central political, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic developments that have transformed Britain since 1800. Unlike most of its European neighbours, Britain did not experience dramatic moments of revolution, constitution-building, invasion or military defeat; indeed the belief that the nation was set on a course of gradual evolutionary progress was central to many versions of British identity. This course examines how, when and why change occurred in Britain. Key themes include the transition to mass democracy; the impact of industrialisation; shifts in social relationships based on class, gender and ethnicity; and the rise and fall of Britain as an imperial power.

Teaching and Assessment

The course will be taught through a series of twice-weekly lectures and weekly one-hour seminars. In addition to an introductory and a concluding session, there will be four blocks of five lectures, which will isolate and explore key political, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic transformations over approximately fifty-year periods. In the related seminars students will assess the significance of particular 'turning-points'. Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level1 

Selected Reading

The following books provide good introductions to the period:

  • Peter Clarke, Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-2000, 2nd edn. (London, 2004)
  • Eric Evans, The Forging of the Modern State: Early Industrial Britain 1783-1870, 3rd edn. (London, 2001)
  • Colin Matthew, (ed.), The Nineteenth Century: The British Isles 1815-1901 (Oxford, 2000)
  • Martin Pugh, State and Society: British Political and Social History 1870-1997, 2nd edn. (London, 1999)
  • Edward Royle, Modern Britain: A Social History 1750-1997, 2nd edn. (London, 1997)

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, a candidate will be able to demonstrate:

  • A broad understanding of the central political, social, economic, cultural and diplomatic developments that have transformed Britain since 1800;
  • The ability to think constructively about the interaction of political, social, economic, cultural and international factors in patterns of historical change in Britain;
  • The ability to identify the main historiographical interpretations of change in Britain;
  • The ability to present material in seminars and participate intelligently in discussion with both the tutor and fellow students;
  • The ability to write informed and coherent essays under pressure of time.