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Unit information: Rewriting Modern Britain in 2021/22

Unit name Rewriting Modern Britain
Unit code HISTM0079
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Many of the narratives previously used to tell the history of modern Britain have been called into question by a decade of political and social turbulence. At the same time, a wave of new approaches, sources, and methodologies has begun to push the field in new directions. The result is that many areas of Modern British history are once again being ‘rewritten’.

In this unit, we will explore two aspects of this move to ‘rewrite’ Britain’s recent past. Firstly, we will consider how intellectual, social, political, economic, and cultural developments have shed new light on classic debates such as the rise of social democracy and the existence or otherwise of a ‘sexual revolution’. How credible do some of the best-known narratives of modern Britain look today, and how might recent work change our understanding of them further?

Secondly, we will investigate how fresh approaches, methods, and sources, including those used to study other periods and disciplines, are enabling us to tell new stories about Modern Britain. We will explore emerging sub-fields, such as histories of emotion, enterprise, rhetoric and activism, and ask what these approaches tell us about what it means to be a historian working in the field today.

The unit therefore aims to:

  1. Give students a grounding in long-standing debates that have shaped research in this area, and help them understand how and why these evolved.
  2. Give students a broad awareness of the latest developments in the field.
  3. Introduce students to the sources, methods, and concepts that have underpinned new approaches.
  4. Prepare students for undertaking independent advanced-level research in the field.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and analyse key historiographical debates and developments.
  2. Judge the extent to which historical narratives are a product of shifting socio-political contexts.
  3. Assess how new methodologies, sources, and concepts have transformed the writing of Modern British history.
  4. Evaluate how historical narratives are influenced by other disciplines and historical specialisms.
  5. Compose a persuasive historiographical argument appropriate to level M.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including group seminar-style discussion and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

One summative essay of 5000 words (100%). [ILOs 1-5]


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How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.