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Unit information: Decade of Discord: Britain in the 1970's (Level I Special Field) in 2021/22

Unit name Decade of Discord: Britain in the 1970's (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST26008
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. McLoughlin
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This Special Field explores a decade commonly seen as the fulcrum around which postwar British politics moved and one of profound economic crisis and mounting social and political unrest in Britain. But had the UK really become ‘ungovernable’ by the end of the 1970s. Were the governments of the decade really as bad as they’re today commonly alleged to have been? Was it really the case that ‘trade union barons’ were increasingly running the country by 1979? During the course of this unit students will examine a range of primary sources such as memoirs and diaries, political pamphlets, government documents, TV news and light entertainment, and popular music. These will be used to assess the degree to which the 1970s can be termed the ‘decade of discord’; to evaluate the performance of Conservative and Labour governments during the decade; and to reassess today’s ‘folk memory’ of events. Seminars will examine both ‘politics from above’ through an examination of elite responses to economic and political crisis, and ‘politics from below’ in the shape of nationalism, shifting class identities, the emergence of 2nd wave feminism, and the impact of new sub-cultures. In the process, students will consider whether recent historiography is right to argue that our view of the 1970s have to some extent been politically constructed.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and analyse key themes in the history of Britain in the 1970s
  2. Understand and use historical methods specific to the study of contemporary history.
  3. Discuss and evaluate the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  5. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I.

Teaching Information

1 x 2hr Seminar per week

1 x 1hr Seminar per week

Assessment Information

  • 1 x 3500-word Essay [50%]
  • 1 x Timed Assessment [50%]


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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.