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Unit information: Radicalism and Class in Britain 1760-1850 (Level H Special Subject) in 2015/16

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Unit name Radicalism and Class in Britain 1760-1850 (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST37004
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sheldon
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Social and political life in Great Britain underwent great transformations between the 1760s and the 1840s. An increasingly urban and literate society came to engage in politics in novel ways and to make new claims; above all radicals pressed for a shift in the base of power away from aristocratic families and towards the people. Whilst reformers of the 1760s sought recognition for those in 'the middle station of life', artisan radicals of the 1790s held that 'every adult person, in possession of his reason should have a vote for a Member of Parliament'. In the 1830s, working class movements built the first national organisation that campaigned by means of mass protest for Parliamentary reform and an extension of the franchise in the form of the Chartist movement. We will make use of source materials ranging from autobiographies to radical publications through to parliamentary documents including the reports of spies.


  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research on radicalism and class in Britain between 1760 and 1850
  • To develop further students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop further students' abilities to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop further students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • Developed an in depth understanding of radicalism and class in Britain between 1760 and 1850
  • Become more experienced and competent in working with an increasingly specialist range of primary sources
  • Become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment.

Teaching Information

  • 10 x weekly 2 hour seminar
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

1 x 3500 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

  • Edward Royle, Revolutionary Britannia? (2000)
  • Rohan McWilliam, Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century England (1998)
  • Denis Dworkin, Class Struggles (2007)
  • Gregory Claeys, The French Revolution Debate in Britain (2007)
  • Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)