Each module is devised by a leading academic and based on their latest research. You will study up-to-date thinking in that area and engage in current historical debates.
Medieval Apocalyptic Thought
The module examines medieval concerns about the day of judgement, the Antichrist and the end of time.
These all had a significant impact upon many different individuals and societies, finding expression in literature, architecture and a wide variety of artistic media. In some cases, the need to infuse the present moment with apocalyptic meaning directly influenced the actions of kings, emperors, ecclesiastical leaders and religious communities.
Students will uncover the systems of belief about the Apocalypse and trace the impact of such traditions upon society in the medieval world.
Module convener: Dr Peter Darby
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. It engages with modern-day appropriations of these medieval heroes and villains in a range of representations and practices commonly known as ‘medievalism’.
- the knight - William Marshall
- the saint - Bernard of Clairvaux
- the anti-hero - Robin Hood
Module convener: Dr Rob Lutton
Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-Medieval England
This module covers a period between the mid-13th century until the late fifteenth century in which a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy.
The module investigates the nature of kingship, placing particular emphasis on the occasions when the king's authority was either challenged or, ultimately, overthrown by his subjects. It considers the limitations and weaknesses of the English monarchy in the period, but also the extent to which the monarchical system involved the participation of the broader political community.
Module convener: Dr Gwilym Dodd
Plague, Famine and Flood: crisis and change in English society, 1250-1540
This module examines how medieval English society weathered significant challenges and the ways historians have sought to explain these changes.
Issues addressed include:
- dynamic commercialisation in the 13th century
- climate change, famine and plague and new economic opportunities for women in the fourteenth century
- economic collapse and the decline of serfdom in the 15th century
Translated medieval documents are a central element of the module.
Module convener: Dr Richard Goddard
Communities, Crime and Punishment in England c.1500-1800
This module analyses how perceptions of law and order, and attitudes to crime and punishment changed in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, ostensibly in response to dramatic increase in criminal activity at that time.
Topics to be explored include:
- policing early modern communities
- rioting, disorder and the negotiation of authority
- the myths and realities of Early Modern organised crime
- criminality and religion
- women, crime and the courts
- changing attitudes to punishment in England.
Module convener: Dr David Appleby
A Protestant Nation?: Politics, Religion and Society in England, 1558-1640
This module explores the causes of political and religious instability in England in the century before the Civil War, with a particular focus on the problematic creation of a national identity.
Areas considered in the module include
- the formation of English national identity
- perceptions of, and challenges to, royal authority
- popular beliefs and the spread of print culture
- anti-Catholicism and the Gunpowder Plot
- religion and the road to Civil War.
Module convener: Dr Julia Merritt
Rethinking the Industrial Revolution: The Transformation of Britain, 1750-1914
Over the period 1750-1914, it has been argued that England passed through an ‘industrial revolution’. This module charts developments in England over this period through investigating changes in social and economic life at the time.
Key themes include:
- the move of people and industry to towns
- changes in the countryside
- changes in living conditions
- changing patterns of consumption
- the changing structures of society.
The module evaluates whether these changes in fact represented a revolution, an evolution or a transformation.
Module convener: Prof John Beckett
Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900
The module introduces students to how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities in the period 1840-1900.
In particular, it focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change.
- the experience of railway travel and new notions of space and time
- the bourgeois home as a site of identity
- the meanings of interior design
- the department store as sites of consumer culture
- photography as a means of both identity-creation and detection
- museum culture, exhibitions and the ordering of imperial knowledge.
Module convener: Dr Richard Hornsey
British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939
This module provides a study of British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
It focuses in particular on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world, such as the making of the ententes, entry into the two world wars, appeasement and relations with other great powers.
It also discusses the wider background factors which influenced British policy and touches on such diverse factors as Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
Module convener: Prof John Young
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?
This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War.
- changing gender roles and expectations
- the management of information
- the experience and impact of rationing, bombing and conscription
- reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry and returning Prisoners of War
- planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system and post-war reconstruction.
Module convener: Dr Nick Thomas
Socialism in an Age of Affluence: The Labour Party, 1945-83
This course examines the history of the post-war Labour Party.
It will devote particular attention to the party's political thought and its relationship with, and perceptions of, social change.
Key issues discussed include:
- the nature of the Labour's party's political thought
- the British left's response to post-war affluence
- the relationship between cultural and political change
- the relationship between social change and Britain's electoral politics.
Module convener: Dr Dean Blackburn
This module seeks to understand how crusaders between the late 11th century to the mid-13th century 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.
Studies will include examinations of the crusades to the 'Holy Land' and Egypt and crusades Spain, Greece, the Baltic and Southern France as well as a detailed thematic examination of the motives, involvement, interests and experience of women, the lay elite, the ordinary laity and the clergy involved in the crusades.
Module convener: Dr Claire Taylor
The Venetian Republic, c. 1450-1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself.
The module will examine:
- 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
- class and gender.
Module convener: Dr David Laven
Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914
This module focuses on the evolution of the Habsburg Monarchy from the 1848 revolutions to the beginning of World War I.
It examines the unpredictable evolution of politics and surveys the following key themes:
- the growth of nationalism
- tensions between local, regional and imperial institutions
- the varied effects of modernization in the period.
The experience of the Hapsburg Monarchy is compared and contrasted with other continental European countries, in particular its neighbour, Germany.
Module convener: Dr Jonathan Kwan
Germany in the Age of Extremes 1890s – 1990
The module analyses the formation of the modern German state during a period characterised by multiple tensions: nation building, industrialisation, class conflict, ethnic tensions and problems of the constitution.
The module examines how the First World War and the German revolution intensified these tensions and considers the crisis of the democratic state, the rise of National Socialism and its unleashing of war and genocide.
It examines denazification and division of the country after the Second World War, the politics of memory in the 1950s and 60s and the reconciliation between West Germany and Eastern Europe in the early 1970s.
Module convener: Dr Christian Haase
European Fascisms, 1900-1945
The module examines the rise of fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the wake of the First World War.
The module examines the:
- social composition of fascist movements
- nature of fascist ideology
- relationship of fascism to the ‘inter-war crisis’.
The practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power is also analysed and compared with particular reference to class repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, policies on ‘race’, expansion through conquest and considers the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.
Module convener: Professor Elizabeth Harvey
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History c. 1970-1990
The 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 explores topics such as:
- change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding
- political responses to industrial change
- the impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life
- mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences
- cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
Module convener: Dr Jörg Arnold
From East India Company to West India Failure: The First British Empire
This module highlights key debates and themes in the history of the ‘first’ British Empire 1600-1807.
trade to the East and colonisation to the West
how the British government protected their empire and enforced a trading monopoly within it
the loss of the American colonies
the impact of abolition upon the valuable slave trade.
The module explores the key themes of ideology and identity; the concept of formal and informal empires and the causes and consequences of historical change.
Module convener: Dr Sheryllynne Haggerty
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of slavery in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902.
the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed
India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny
Britain’s participation in the ‘Scramble for Africa’ and Second Anglo-Boer War.
It will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as ‘the Imperial Metropolis.’
Module convener: Dr Sascha Auerbach
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War 1919-1994
The purpose of this module is to examine current debates concerning the end of the European empires in Africa, such as Egypt, Algeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the emergence of a new political system of these independent states.
The module will discuss:
the emergence of African nationalism
the uneven economic development in the last years of empire and the first years of independence
colonial wars, race and the question of European settlements
the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation.
Module convener: Dr Spencer Mawby
The Tokugawa World, 1600-1868
This module covers two-and-a-half centuries in Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers.
The module studies some of the historical forces that would combine to transform society and lay the foundations for Japan’s subsequent encounters with modernity.
Key themes studied include:
Japan’s self-imposed policy of seclusion, class mobility and urbanization
the growth of popular culture and the emergence of ‘the Floating World’
attempts to address problems within Japanese society using Japanese, Chinese and European ideas
the ‘Opening of Japan’ as well as the collapse of the Tokugawa World.
Module convener: Dr Andrew Cobbing
The Rise of Modern China
This module covers the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. It looks at social, cultural, political and economic developments in this period from a variety of angles and approaches.
The module focuses on:
- the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question
- how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society.
Module convener: Dr Jeremy Taylor
Cities, Factories and Cultural Living: Interwar Japan
This module considers Japan’s encounter with modernity during the ‘interwar’ or 'Greater Taisho' period between 1905 and 1931.
This period witnessed increasing liberalisation with the rise of labour and Leftist movements and the beginnings of feminist consciousness as well as urbanisation, commercialisation, mass education and literacy.
However, in the 1930s democracy and liberalism gave way to rising ultra-nationalism and militarism which led ultimately to a devastating war with the Western powers.
Module convener: Dr Susan Townsend