You either take a 40-credit history Special Subject and a 40-credit history dissertation with 40 credits of optional archaeology modules
You take a 40-credit archaeology dissertation, 20-credit archaeology option, and a 40-credit history Special Subject, plus 20-credit history or American and Canadian studies option.
You’ll have at least eight hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.
You must pass year three, which counts as 67% towards your final degree classification.
Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia
In the early 20th century, Russia embarked on one of the most momentous experiments in history – to transform not only global political structures and social relations, but human nature itself.
Fundamental to the revolutionary project was the creation of a new culture, which would construct and promote new visions of the desired present and ideal future. Through culture, individuals would learn to think of themselves, their relations with others, and their relations with the world in new ways.
On this module, you will:
- Be introduced to Russian revolutionary culture and trace its evolution during the 20th century
- Engage with Soviet film, literature, graphic arts and architecture, both state-sponsored and ideologically non-conforming
- Read first-person testimonies written by ordinary Soviet citizens, offering fascinating insights into historical problems of social and self-identity and changing inter-relations between the individual and collective and state and society
Through grappling with these sources, you will discover new ways of understanding how culture and politics interact and shape one another. This is a vital skill for engaging critically with political and media discourses in the current age of ‘fake news’ and ‘virtual reality’.
This module is aimed at anyone interested in modern Russian history, in the significance of culture in political change, and the role of politics in constructing culture.
This module is worth 40 credits.
Victorians in Italy: Travelling South in the Nineteenth Century
This module examines the history of travel to and within Italy in accounts written by British travellers in the period c.1780-c.1914, especially these key topics:
- methodologies necessary for analysing travel writing as historical evidence
- the nature of the 'Grand Tour', including the experiences of women travellers
- collecting and the development of notions of taste
- the changing nature of travel writing in the nineteenth century, including the Romanticisation of travel
- the appearance of middle class travellers as 'tourists'
- the 'guide book', a new genre of writing
The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe
This special subject surveys and analyses the place of Jews in modern European history. Throughout the modern period, Jews lived in Europe as part of a minority. The module is concerned to analyse the enduring, productive and resilient relation between Jews and non-Jews. It is the contention of this module that the story of the relationship’s development and evolution can tell us a great deal of the history of Europe as a whole.
Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853–78
This module surveys the dramatic cultural encounter in the nineteenth 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.
The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652
This module surveys and analyses political, religious, social, cultural and military changes during the civil wars fought across the British Isles and the British Atlantic between 1639 and 1652. The major topics to be explored include:
- the causes of the civil wars
- the mobilisation of civilian communities
- the course of the civil wars
- the impact of war on individuals and communities
- religious and political change
- the growth of religious and political radicalism
- print culture and propaganda
- the changing roles of women
- the issues surrounding the public trial and execution of the king
- the abolition of the British monarchy and the House of Lords
- the ‘Celtic dimension’ of the conflict
- the Civil Wars in the British Atlantic
Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England
This module explores religious ‘faith’ in England from c. 1215 to the beginning of the Reformation in 1534.
The English church made great efforts in this period to consolidate Christianity amongst the masses through wide-reaching programmes of instruction, regulation and devotion. However, historians disagree as to how successful the church was in its efforts.
The module investigates the relationship between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ religion and examines how the church sought to maintain its authority in matters of faith. It asks how people responded and the degree to which they fashioned their own religious practices and beliefs. It also considers the violent repression by church and crown of those deemed ‘heretics’.
It looks at the condemned teachings of the Oxford academic John Wycliffe and the significance of those who followed his ideas, known as Lollards.
Module convener: Dr Rob Lutton
The Black Death
In 1348 the Black Death arrived in England. By 1350 the disease had killed half of the English population. The module concentrates upon the stories of the epidemics' survivors and what they did to adapt to a world turned upside down by plague. It examines the impact of this unprecedented human disaster upon the society and culture of England between 1348 and 1520. It examines four particular groups of survivors:
The module explores English society through translated medieval sources. Themes include:
- Impact of the Black Death
- Religious and scientific explanations of the plague
- Changes in peasant society and how peasants lived after the plague Merchants, their lives, businesses and shifting attitudes towards them
- Gentry society and culture in the fifteenth century and the development of an entrepreneurial ‘middling sort’
- Women’s lives and experiences in a post-plague patriarchal society The module poses a simple question: How central is the Black Death in explanations of long-term historical change and the evolution of the modern world?
After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s
In the historiography, the 1970s and 1980s are often referred to as a ‘landslide’ (E. Hobsbawm) or a ‘time of troubles’ (A. Marwick) for the West, which, it is argued, followed upon the ‘Golden Age’ of material affluence and cultural liberalisation that characterised the post-war period. At the same time, historical scholarship is only just beginning to make inroads into a field that has been extensively documented by cultural critics, the media and the social sciences. The module will engage critically with the dominant conceptualisation of the 1970s and 1980s as crisis decades and ask about the contribution that Contemporary History can make to our understanding of the period. It focuses on the UK and W-Germany as case studies, but will also look at developments in the West more broadly, exploring economic, social and cultural change as well as continuity. It takes thematic approaches, analysing topics including:
- Détente and the second Cold War;
- the crisis of industrialism and structural economic change;
- social change and continuity, with special emphasis on the class structure;
- the disintegration of consensus politics and the rise of the New Right;
- liberalisation, new social movements and cultural politics;
- domestic terrorism, the public and the state; heritage, memory and nostalgia.
British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1950
The module explores the cultural transformations in Britain brought on by the shift to a Fordist economy (roughly covering the period 1920-50), and the social and cultural contestations that resulted. It takes chronological and thematic approaches, and topics may include:
- New experiences of factory work and the rationalisation of diverse areas of everyday life;
- New forms of advertising and commodity culture, and the anxieties and opportunities these produced;
- New forms of industrial urban leisure (e.g. the cinema and dance hall) and their role in promoting social change;
- Performances of self-hood and the contested politics of movement and habit;
- The perceived impact of Americanisation on national traditions, values and ways of life;
- The rise of the ‘expert’ across a range of fields to manage working-class behaviour;
- The development of social science and the problems of knowing ‘the masses’; Post-WW2 reconstruction and the early years of the Welfare State;
Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America
Once dismissed as the “Me Decade” (Tom Wolfe), or a time when “it seemed like nothing happened” (Peter Carroll), the 1970s have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent American historical scholarship. This module introduces students to the narratives of crisis and decline that defined the 1970s and which helped make the decade such a transformative period in American life - recasting the United States and its society, politics and culture in significant and far-reaching ways - whilst encouraging students to think critically about those narratives and their utility for subsequent processes of political, socio-economic and cultural change. We will explore developments such as the growth of identity politics and the cult of the individual, debates over American foreign policy abroad and social policy at home, the rise of populist conservatism, the market and neo-liberalism, anxieties over the city, the environment and the political system, and a broader political and cultural power shift from Rustbelt to Sunbelt, as we seek to understand why the 1970s are now regarded as the decade “that brought us modern life - for better or worse” (David Frum).
Imperial Eyes: the Body in Enlightenment Thought, c.1730-1830
This module explores the role of empire and ideas of race, gender and disability in the eighteenth-century enlightenment. The module includes topics such as:
- What role colonial encounter played in Enlightenment theories of human development
- How Enlightenment scholars imagined bodily difference
- The place of the slave trade in Enlightenment thought
- Enlightenment ideas of the body, sexuality and disability
- Colonized people's responses to Enlightenment thinking
Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England
This module evaluates the ways in which ideas during the Renaissance had an impact on both long-distance exploration and interstate relations. Also, of primary importance will be situating Tudor England in a pan-European context, thereby helping students better understand the rise of this island nation to become a global superpower. Topics covered will include:
- Renaissance attitudes to human potential
- Motivations for overseas exploration and travel
- Beginnings of European imperialism
- Continuities and changes in diplomacy
- Religion and foreign policy
- Travel literature and cultural diplomacy
- Xenophobia and cosmopolitanism
Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
International history is dominated by wars; historians and international relations scholars focus with an almost obsessive zeal on the causes and consequences of conflict. The intermittent periods of peace are rarely scrutinised, other than to assess the imperfections of peace treaties and thus extrapolate the seeds of future wars. This module offers a corrective to this tendency, taking as its focus the multifarious efforts that have been made since 1815 to substitute peace for war. These include diplomatic efforts (e.g. post-war conferences, legalistic mechanisms such as the UN, arms control protocols, etc.), and those advanced by non-state actors (e.g. national and transnational peace movements, anti-war protests, etc.). Taking a broad definition of the term peace , and focusing predominantly (though not exclusively) on Britain, this module revisits some of the pivotal episodes of the 19th and 20th centuries, exposing and interrogating the often complex relationship between war and peace that emerged, and thus arriving at an alternative history of the period.
A Green and (un) Pleasant Land? Society, Culture and the Evolution of the British Countryside
This module explores the relationship between society, culture and the British countryside between 1800 and 1918. It examines both perceptions and realities, and reveals a dynamic British countryside which both reflected and shaped society and culture and forged an enigmatic relationship with the urban. Themes include:
- perceptions and popular representations of the British countryside
- constructing a rural idyll
- Englishness and national identity
- exposing the reality of living and working conditions in the countryside
- the (un) healthy countryside? - poverty, disease and insanity
- the agency of the labouring population
- the radical countryside
- constructing gender in the British countryside
- the leisured countryside
- animal-human relations
- the preservation and conservation movement
- the evolving relationship between town and country
- public history: representations of the British countryside
The past that won't go away: the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939
This module examines the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), its underlying causes and legacy for present-day Spain. Commencing with the establishment of the Second Republic in 1931, students will consider the principal historical forces and conditions that gave rise to the outbreak of war in 1936 in Spain. The module is delivered through a combination of lecture and student-led seminars in which students present their understanding of a specific historical event, theme or ideas through their study of primary and secondary sources, and respective historiographical debates. Thus, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the war through propaganda, myth, revolutionary ideology, anti-clerical and gendered violence, as well as, for example, the significance of Badajoz and Guernica. The conflict is also considered in the wider context of the ‘European Civil War’; specifically, the role of military interventions on the part of regimes in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union, and the influence of non-interventions by Britain and France. Using Helen Graham’s notion of the ‘past that won’t go away’, the module concludes with a reflection on the legacy of the Civil War in contemporary Spain.
From Revelation to ISIS: Apocalyptic Thought from the 1st to 21st Century
The need to infuse the present moment with apocalyptic meaning is an important theme in the history of ideas. Concerns about the day of judgement, Antichrist, the millennium and the end of time have a significant impact upon many different individuals and societies throughout history, finding expression in literature, architecture and a wide variety of artistic media. In some cases, apocalyptic anxiety directly influenced the actions of kings, emperors, ecclesiastical leaders and religious communities. Students will uncover systems of belief about the end of history and trace the impact of such traditions upon states, societies and religious institutions.
Plague, Fire and the Reimagining of the Capital 1600-1720: The Making of Modern London
In 1665, London suffered the worst plague epidemic since the Black Death, killing over 97,000 people. The following year, the Great Fire destroyed four-fifths of the ancient City of London within three days. This module explores the impact of these events and places them within the context of the 1660s and the city’s past and future history.
We will investigate how Londoners across the social spectrum responded to natural disasters and crises, the challenges that these presented to community values and group identities and how the spread of news reflected fears over religious difference and terrorist plots. The module also examines the changing character of the city across the period including concerns over health, the environment and the use of green space.
Transnationalising Italy: A History of Modern Italy in a Transnational Perspective
The module looks at the history of modern Italy (19th-21 century) from a transnational framework in order to illuminate different facets of the connections between Italy and the wider world. The module makes use of the methodological innovations of a transnational approach to put emphasis on movement, interaction, connections and exchange. It examines key moments and developments in the history of modern Italy by addressing the connections and circulations (of ideas, people, and goods) that cross borders.
The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
This module considers the archaeology of England from the end of the Roman occupation until the Norman conquest. You will explore the question of the Romano-British survival and the formation of new Anglo-Saxon societies, evidence of pagan beliefs and the conversion to Christianity; on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Viking incursions and Danish impact on England.
Themes in Near Eastern Prehistory
You will critically examine themes in Near Eastern Prehistory. The themes take you from the development of agriculture, pastoralism and sedentism to the appearance of the first cities, states and writing. Drawing directly from current research, you will use case studies to examine these themes. You will use archaeological evidence to understand how these developments are reflected in social, religious, economic and political organisations of the prehistoric Near East. You will attend weekly lectures and seminars. After appropriate guidance, you will take part in learning activities includes:
- setting readings
- running classroom discussions.
You will receive feedback on these participatory activities. You will write an essay for your formal assessment.
Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)
This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.
We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.
You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.
We will examine:
- the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
- the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
- the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
- the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire
You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.
This module is worth 20 credits.
The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions
This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.
The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:
- The definitions of the Silk Roads
- Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
- Luxury production
- Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
- Ming Dynasty links with the West
Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Britain on Film
This course analyses the history of Britain since the 1930s through twelve classic films. We will examine the films as historical documents, that is, as interventions in the cultural, social, and political debates of their time, and as guides to those questions for historians. The questions to ask are: what do these films tell us about the society which produced them? What do they tell us about social, political, cultural and intellectual debates of the period in which they were made? How do the films address those debates? The films change each year, but will include: the documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, Ealing Comedy, British New Wave, 60s cinema, Derek Jarman, and “heritage” costume drama. Workload: every week students will watch one film and do a detailed synopsis of the film in the class, and will also do other class tasks based on reading articles or book sections.
Henry VIII: Monarchy, Power and Religion in England, 1509-1547
Henry VIII’s reign was one of the most transformative in English history. It oversaw a break with the papacy that fundamentally altered the religious and political make-up of the realm. It saw royal authority become increasingly absolute under a king who was now also the head of the church. It witnessed numerous courtiers rise and fall as families vied for the attention of the king – and often his hand in marriage. All this left England a fundamentally different place in 1547 than it had been in 1509. This module aims to expand on and challenge this knowledge to bring to life a clearer picture of how monarchy, power and religion operated in sixteenth-century England.
The Rise and Fall of Thatcherism, 1975-1992
This module explores the political, social and cultural history of late twentieth-century Britain. It does so by engaging critically with the political project that is often referred to as ‘Thatcherism’. Associated with the political leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990, this project is frequently described as a transformative ideological movement that re-shaped British politics from the late-1970s. In this module, students will bring this notion under scrutiny by locating Thatcher’s ideas and beliefs within a broader historiographical context.
The Celtic Fringe: Scotland and Ireland, c.1066-1603
Both Scotland and Ireland were neighbours to the medieval ‘superpower’ that was England, which throughout this period was not only economically more powerful than either Scotland or Ireland, but which was politically and militarily aggressive towards its neighbours.
This module will address how Scotland and Ireland fared with their troublesome neighbour. How Scotland and Ireland responded to English aggression will offer students the opportunity to explore and engage with the contrasting outcomes for both countries.
Crime and Punishment in England
The nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth in Britain witnessed a rapid and dramatic expansion of the state, the apparatus of policing, mass media, and the role of the government in regulating morality. The study of these processes has produced lively debate within the field of British history, and many of the most notable historians of modern Britain have written on these topics. Our task will be both to examine the subjects of crime, law, and morality in the broader context of modern British society, politics, and economics and to delve into the rich primary sources that various legal and media campaigns generated.
The 1960's: A Decade of Change?
This module surveys and analyses developments across what Arthur Marwick has called the ‘long Sixties’ in Western Europe and North America from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.
Content will include coverage of the following:
• The Sixties and memory
• The 1950s and consensus
• Permissiveness and the sexual revolution
• Women’s experiences
• The Civil Rights Movement
• The Vietnam War
• Protest Movements and 1968
• Youth Culture
• The Watergate Scandal
There will be a particular emphasis on exploring the use of, and critical engagement with, the extensive primary material which is available for the period.
Artistic Licence: Social Satire and Political Caricature in Britain, c1780-c1850
Between c.1780 and c.1850, social and political satire adopted new, innovative and slanderous forms of output in Great Britain. This saw the leading practitioners – William Hogarth, James Gillray, William Hone, George Cruikshank and John Doyle – became major ‘celebrities’ in their own right.
We explore the definition, nature and use of social satire and political caricature in this period. Emphasis is on ‘reading’ and ‘de-coding’ them as historical artefacts.
You will consider case studies in their historical context. Specific examples include:
- The wars with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1793-1815)
- The Queen Caroline Affair (1820)
- The ‘Constitutional Revolution’ (1828-32)
Throughout this module, the focus is on assessing the historical context which gave rise to satirical material, evaluating the contribution it made in the period. We also question how justified it is to describe this as ‘the golden age of caricature’.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophies of the Revolution: Anti-Imperialism and British Decolonization in the Twentieth Century
This module aims to provide an overview of some of the ideas which emerged in the periphery of the British empire during the 20th century and their influence on decolonization in India, the West Indies, Malaya, the Arab world and Ghana.
Five texts will be examined particularly closely:
- Gandhi's overview of his life and opinions (The Story of My Experiments with Truth)
- Eric Williams' memoir of his life and education in Trinidad (Inward Hunger)
- Chin Peng's account of his war against the British in Malaya (Alias Chin Peng)
- Nasser's treatise on revolutionary politics in the Arab world (The Philosophy of the Revolution)
- Nkrumah's analysis of his role in the anti-colonial struggle in Ghana (The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah)
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthdox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
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. You will have four hours of seminars each week for this module.
Napoleonic Europe and its Aftermath, 1799-1848
Napoleon broadened and reshaped the dynamics of the French Revolution, war and state reform. He was also a symbol of a new world where an individual from a lower noble family and an obscure island could dominate the continent. The module takes a chronological view of politics, international affairs, war, personalities and ideas.
Coverage will focus on France, the German states, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Northern Italy.
Peoples, Places, Races and Monsters: the Known and the Unknown in High-Medieval Travel
The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’.
The Rise (and Demise?) of Capitalism
This module examines the development of capitalism from the 15th to the 21st century. It uses England/Britain as its case study, looking at both imperial developments and England’s/Britain’s wider role in world trade.
In particular, this module charts the varying manifestations of capitalism (commercial; industrial; financial; consumer) and how and why the character of capitalism has changed over time.
It also looks at who benefitted/benefits and who lost/loses under each form of capitalism and how it worked/works in practice
The following modules are offered by the Department of American and Canadian Studies: