HST2037: The Welfare State in Britain, 1900-2015

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr Emily Baughan


Module Summary

Although 1948 is remembered as the birth of the British welfare state, the involvement of the government in the wellbeing of its citizens has a far longer history. In this unit, we will explore the gradual evolution of British welfare practice and policy from 1900 until the present day. Drawing on primary sources including newspaper reports, documentary film and television, diaries, memoirs, charity records, and local government sources, we will analyze the shifting relationship between citizens and the state in modern Britain. We will examine how debates about class, gender, race and immigration informed the nature and extent of welfare provision over the past hundred years. In doing so, we will set the birth, growth and decline of the British welfare state alongside debates about the nature of citizenship in modern Britain.


This unit will aim to provide you with an advanced critical understanding of the British welfare state. Knowledge will be rooted in the critical evaluation of primary sources, including parliamentary debates, local government surveys, the record of voluntary organizations and the accounts of men and women who experienced the intervention of the welfare state in their everyday lives. We will consider the ways in which historians of the welfare state have used these sources, and the relationship of primary material to the secondary literature. We will also examine the ways in which historical understandings of the welfare state inform present-day debates. Throughout the unit, you will develop your written and oral communication ability, as well as your collaborative working skills as you present a group research project to the class.

Teaching and Assessment

To Follow

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/level2


Intended Learning Outcomes
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