This module will provide you with the learning skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history. You will be introduced to different approaches in the study of history as well as to different understandings of the functions served by engagement with the past. The module aims to encourage more effective learning, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline, and enhance the skills listed. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Understanding Global Politics
This module introduces global politics through the major theoretical, historical and empirical ways of seeing international relations. We consider how different approaches understand global politics, the role of different actors in global politics and different approaches to organising international relations. In particular, the module highlights the major issues of war and peace, and global poverty.
Modern Political Theory
This module introduces you to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The course will be text based.
Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include:
- government and the state
- the comparative approach
- constitutions and the legal framework
- democratic and authoritarian rule
- political culture
- the political executive
- political parties and party systems
- electoral systems and voting behaviour
- the crisis of democracy
And one of the following two modules:
British Political History since 1945
This module will introduce and interrogate British political history since 1945. The module will take students through key issues and controversies in post-war British politics and as they relate to leaders and governments (in lectures) and key debates over controversies (in seminars).
The module will explore a range of issues relating to:
- economic policy
- social policy and the welfare state
- industrial relations
- foreign and defence policy
- local government and nuclear deterrence
Seminars will employ a range of activity-based scenarios to develop student understanding of key crises experienced by leaders and governments since 1945.
Problems in Global Politics
This module explores some of the major problems that exist in contemporary global politics. It introduces you to a wide range of challenges faced by states and non-state actors in the international system and engages with topics ranging from security concerns to economic issues.
The module draws on a wide range of ideas and examples from around the world to help you to better understand global politics.
Introduction to the Medieval World, 500–1500
This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500–1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organisation; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
From Reformation to Revolution: an introduction to early modern history, 1500–1789
This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Roads to Modernity: an introduction to modern history, 1789–1945
In the first semester, the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789–1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will usually spend two hours in lectures and seminars each week.
History and Politics: A problem or solution?
This unique and innovative module invites students to think for themselves about the relationship between two seemingly different disciplines, both theoretically and empirically, by encouraging them to reflect on broader conceptual and methodological issues and then apply these to their own understanding of the concept of ‘consensus’ as it is often applied to post-war British history. The module has two principal functions. First, it provides students with an understanding of various methodological approaches that have been applied to the study of political phenomena. In doing so, it will encourage them to develop a more sophisticated critical engagement with the arguments that they encounter. Second, it enhances students’ understanding of some of the concepts that are central to the study of history and politics. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
And one of the following two modules:
Approaches to Politics and International Relations
The module introduces you to alternative theoretical approaches to the study of political phenomena.
We consider the different forms of analysing, explaining, and understanding politics associated with approaches such as:
- rational choice theory
- interpretive theory
The module shows that the different approaches are based upon contrasting 'ontological' suppositions about the nature of politics, and they invoke alternative 'epistemological' assumptions about how we acquire valid knowledge of politics and international relations.
How Voters Decide
Elections are the foundation of representative democracy. The act of voting creates a link between citizens' preferences and government policy. This means that the choices voters make have important consequences.
But, how do voters make these choices? Are they based on the policies that parties promise to enact in the future, or is it more about the policy successes (or failures) that parties have experienced in the past? Does the party's leader make a difference? Can campaigns or the media's coverage change how voters see their electoral choices? Finally, given the importance of elections, why do many citizens choose to abstain from the process altogether?
How Voters Decide will explore the choices that citizens make when they participate in elections and it will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate arguments about electoral behaviour in Britain and beyond.
Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of stereotypical villains such as ‘the Jew’. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
This module addresses evidence for crusader motivation and experience through sources relating to crusading activity in Europe and the Middle East from the late eleventh century to the mid-13th century. It seeks to understand how crusaders saw themselves and their enemies, their experiences and activity on crusade and as settlers, and how this horrifying yet enduringly fascinating process has been interpreted historically. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Venetian Republic, 1450–1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
De-Industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, 1970–1990
This module examines the social and cultural impact of economic change in three traditional industrial regions in the UK, Germany and the US in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including: overlaps and differences between Contemporary History and the Social Sciences; change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding; political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures, among others. You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Soviet State and Society
This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
You will also attend a non-assessed weekly lecture module throughout the year called ‘Doing History’. This builds on the first-year core module Learning History and aims to develop your awareness of the craft of the historian, developing essential skills to get the most out of your second-year options and enabling you to determine what sort of historian you are. It also operates as a bridge to your third and final year, permitting you to make informed decisions about your choice of Special Subject, third-year options, and dissertation.
This module involves the in-depth study of a historical subject from which you will create a 10,000 word dissertation. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task. You can also choose a topic in politics instead (in which case the dissertation length is 12,000 words)
Politics and Drugs
This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem.
The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined.
Airpower and Modern Warfare
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks. In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of air power in the post-Cold War security environment, for example, in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns.
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the 19th century as the world of the samurai was confronted by Western expansion and the Age of Steam. It explores the forces at work in Japan’s rapid transformation from an ‘ancien régime’ under the rule of the Shogun into a ‘modern’ imperial power. Original documents examined in class draw on the growing range of Japanese primary sources available in English translation, together with the extensive works of Victorian diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other foreign residents in the treaty ports. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.
Italy at War, 1935–45
Spending four hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935–45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema.
Dark Age Masculinities
This module re-evaluates the history of masculinity in medieval Western culture. Most existing analysis of masculinity in Western culture deals with modern cultures. Yet, many of the key characteristics of this masculinity can plausibly be traced back to the Dark Ages. Students will study such issues as: how to use gender as an analytical tool with which to investigate early medieval evidence; gender ideology; codes of male honour; men's life cycles and fatherhood; relations between the sexes; rituals of violence; military and clerical ideals of masculinity. You will have three hours of seminars and lectures each week for this module.
From Racial State to Reconstruction: women and gender relations in Germany, 1939–45
This module adopts a perspective of women's and gender history to explore the history of Germany in the period from the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship up to the division of Germany into two post-war states in 1949. It will examine National Socialist discourses, policies and practices in relation to women and gender relations by drawing on records of public authorities and institutions concerned with educating and training the female population in line with Nazi precepts, mobilizing labour for the Nazi war economy, sustaining home front morale, and combating ‘threats to the race’. You will have four hours of lectures and seminars each week for this module.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.