HI5025 - Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics, Society and Culture, 1783-1982

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What will I learn on this module?

This module looks at how the possession of empire shaped British culture and society from the abolition of slavery through to the Falklands conflict of 1982. Over this period the Empire saw bouts of expansion and contraction, but at its peak in the early twentieth century the empire covered around 25% of the earth’s land surface and encompassed around 458 million people, or one-fifth of the world’s population. But how did British people ‘at home’ engage with this empire? What do they know about it, how did it shape their lives, and how was the empire taught, marketed and publicised? These are just some of the questions that we shall ask in this module.

In recent years’ historians have bitterly debated the extent to which the empire impacted on British society, politics and culture. Some have said that the empire was a class act and that 80% of the population were kept in ignorance of it. On the other side of the debate are those that say that empire was everywhere in British culture; indeed, empire was so familiar that people hardly had to mention it. This module looks at the ways in which empire shaped political debate, social lives, and British culture. In addition to covering major political debates and incidents – such as the abolition of slavery, the Boer War and the Falklands conflict of 1982 – the module will also look at how empire shaped national and gender identities in mainland Britain. Dramatic moments when the empire did actually ‘come home’ will be analysed: this will involve a study of the onset of immigration with the arrival of the first West Indian communities on the Empire Windrush in 1948.

How will I learn on this module?

One-hour lectures will present core concepts and background information relating to the eleven seminar themes. These lectures will also introduce the key questions and historiographical debates that surround that theme. You will be expected to prepare for weekly two-hour seminars by reading the essential readings (usually two chapters or journal articles). In the seminars you will develop your knowledge of the material and literature through class discussions and small group work. You will be also given the opportunity to discuss primary sources (such as parliamentary debates, pamphlets, newspapers, cartoons and caricatures), and you be encouraged to make use of this material in the written assessment for this module. You may also be asked to give presentations and lead short seminar discussions. These exercises are designed to develop your confidence and analytical skills.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors and programme leaders. Seminars and pre- and post-assessment tutorials (which are offered to all students) will allow specific issues to be addressed and for students to develop their confidence with, and knowledge of, the module material. The module tutor can be accessed through office hours, email correspondence and specially-timetabled tutorials. Your peers will be expected to provide you with a collaborative learning environment. An e-learning portal and electronic reading list will provide all essential readings and other course materials, such as lecture power-point slides, seminar handouts, and online resources.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of the key themes in British imperial history.
2. Appreciate the ideological, material and political factors that drove British imperial expansion.
3. Exhibit an understanding of how imperial expansion has shaped modern British history.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. Demonstrate an ability to read and analyse primary and secondary sources and place them within their wider historical and historiographical context.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate an enhanced ability to conceptualize the global factors that drive international relations.

How will I be assessed?

The module is summatively assessed by:
1) a 2,500-word essay and
2) a two-hour examination.

The essay will give students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of an aspect of British imperial history through a critical discussion of the primary and secondary literature. It will also give them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills of reading, analysis, criticism and citation.

The essay will focus on material covered in weeks 1-6, while the exam will cover the material discussed in weeks 1-11. The exam will be designed so that students can not repeat or reuse material covered in their coursework.

Formative assessment will take the form of short student presentations in class and an essay plan submitted in advance of the summative essay. Feedback on your first summative assessment will allow you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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