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The Making of Modern Britain

This course will examine the key social, economic and political influences which have shaped Britain in the 21stc both as a nation state and as an international power.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Humanities

Function : General

Trainer name : Dr Jennifer Dunn

Starts on : 1st Oct 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

In 18th c Britain democracy was feared, protest was suppressed, religious intolerance prevailed. Over the next two hundred years, a modern, democratic, multicultural Britain emerged. This course will examine the key social, economic and political influences which have shaped Britain in the 21stc both as a nation state and as an international power. literature.

This course will introduce students both to an understanding of the main factors which helped to create modern Britain and to the process of how to study history. There will be regular exercises designed to develop a range of historical skills which will included evaluation of historical sources, the understanding of historical concepts, exploring debates and appreciating the significance of historical theories. 

Course aims

This course aims to:

  • Study and evaluate the factors influencing the emergence of modern Britain
  • Enable students to acquire a range of historical skills such as understanding the importance of concepts, the role of historical debate and the critical analysis of historical sources. 

This course will enable participants to:

  • Assess the key political, social and economic developments and changes within Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
  • Analyse and explain the main ideals and values which helped to shape modern Britain.
  • Develop a range of historical skills through the evaluation of primary sources and critical reading of texts. 
  • Understand and appraise historical interpretations and appreciate the nature of historical debate.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of documents
  • Research topics with student feedback
  • Discussion sessions
  • Set questions on primary materials
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders
  • Quizzes
  • Guided exercises on acquiring a range of historical skills

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • The key political, social and economic developments and changes within Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
  • The interaction of ideals and values which over two centuries helped to create and shape modern Britain.
  • The process of how to understand and study history.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to demonstrate secure knowledge of the main political, social and economic developments which occurred in Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
  • The ability to write both critical and analytical evaluations of these key issues.
  • The ability to evaluate and appreciate the way in which particular ideas were significant in influencing and shaping developments. 
  • The ability to compare, evaluate and interpret primary sources, and to organise ideas constructively in support of their interpretations.
  • The ability to evaluate historical interpretations and understand historical concepts. 

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:

  • Wasson, E. A History of Modern Britain 1714 to the present (2010) Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester
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Course Content

The Enlightenment

  • The key philosophical and political ideas of the Enlightenment
  • The wider impact of the Enlightenment
  • Implications within Britain
  • Introduction to note-taking

The Age of Revolution

  • The American and French Revolutions
  • Political radicalism in Britain
  • Evaluating primary sources (political)

The Industrial Revolution

  • Enterprise, initiative and innovation
  • A great manufacturing nation
  • Evaluating primary sources (social and economic)
  • First assignment on primary sources

Government and the People

  • Pressures for reform and government responses
  • Why no revolution?
  • Understanding historical debate and assessing the value of different historical theories

Women: campaigning for women’s rights

  • The women’s suffrage movement
  • The fight for social and economic equality
  • Critical analysis of visual sources – cartoons, posters etc
  • Examining the influences which create new historical disciplines

The changing role of the state: from laissez-faire to welfare state

  • Nineteenth century individualism
  • The growth of the welfare state
  • Understanding concepts

Changing images of Britain

  • Mass politics
  • Mass education
  • Grass-roots politics and protests
  • Growth of popular culture 
  • Research and essay preparation. 

Britain and the wider world

  • Imperial Britain
  • Decline of empire
  • The Commonwealth and post-colonialism
  • The relationship with Europe
  • Second assignment – essay 

Multi-cultural Britain

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Immigration
  • Critical analysis of contemporary interpretations 

Britain today?

  • How democratic is Britain today?
  • What is Britain’s global status? 
  • What are the attributes of a modern democratic state?
  • Evaluating Britain – exploring and criticising modern day commentary.

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