The United Kingdom from 1939 to the Present Day

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
13 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V31B Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V350 Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA W808 Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA W408 Drama (Including Foundation Year),
BA WQ28 Drama and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA T728 English and United States Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q320 English Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA PW88 Film and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA W628 Film Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA PQ38 Film Studies and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA V102 History (Including Foundation Year),
BA MV98 History and Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV18 History and Economics (Including Foundation Year),
BA QV2C History and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV38 History and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1W8 History with Film Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA V1L8 History with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA L250 International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA LQ38 Literature and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA V144 Modern History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VL18 Modern History and International Relations (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV28 Modern History and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L202 Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA QW38 Literature and Creative Writing (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q218 English and Comparative Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA P403 Film and Drama (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module offers an introduction to the historical events and processes that have helped to shape the contemporary United Kingdom. During the period in question the United Kingdom underwent a series of political and cultural changes that were to have profound effects on the society and economy of the UK, its status in the world, and its national perception of its changing world role. The module examines the principle causes and phases of change during this period and the effect these changes had upon the UK as a nation with particular emphasis on society and the people of Britain.

The module will run over 22 weeks. Students will be introduced, over the course of the module, to a level of knowledge and analysis which will provide an appropriate academic background for those wishing to study other periods of history, and other Humanities and Social Science subjects, within the UK university system. As well as examining recent history, the module will develop the skills that will enable students to interpret information, think critically, assess evidence and undertake research. The module will help enhance and refine students' writing skills, oral presentation skills and test/ exam taking skills and strategies.

The module requires no prior knowledge of, or experience of studying, British history.

Module aims

1. To provide a firm foundation of knowledge and understanding of key developments in UK history during the period studied.

2. To introduce students to the workings of the British political system;

3. To develop students' ability to think critically and to analyse historical data from a wide range of sources, in order to construct and convey an argument, both oral and written;

4. To develop students' skills necessary for further academic study through the practice of seminar discussions, small-group work, academic exercises, seminar presentations, individual study, research, and reflective, critical reading;

5. To explain the use of historical terms and concepts;

6. To increase students' awareness of the many different approaches (chiefly political, cultural, social and economic) towards the study of history, and the provisional, ever-evolving nature of contemporary history;

7. To familiarise students with the academic working environment of a UK university through the study of history;

8. To acquaint students with what are - and what are not - accepted modes of academic discourse, the need to cite sources, and the paramount importance of avoiding plagiarism.

9. To enhance students' knowledge of and interest in history by preparing them for potential undergraduate study of the subject;

10. To increase students' awareness of the importance of an understanding of historical issues to enhance their future study of other humanities and social science subjects.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module a student will be expected to be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of key events in the history of the United Kingdom during the twentieth century (including the most significant cultural changes within UK society and the UK's changing relationships with its key overseas partners and allies) and assess how that historical knowledge contributes to a thorough understanding of the contemporary United Kingdom.

2. Demonstrate awareness of the workings of the British political system, and of recent (and ongoing) political debates.

3. Engage fully with the study of history, and other Humanities and Social Science subjects, through the taking of lecture notes, the undertaking of independent study and active participation in seminar discussion.

4. Apply the key skill of critical, analytical thinking to the examination of historical evidence from a variety of sources in order to then incorporate this analysis of evidence into written work, oral presentations and seminar discussions.

5. Analyse assignment and exam questions, and research and construct an appropriate academic argument in response.

6. Reference secondary and primary sources accurately and appropriately, and construct an accompanying bibliography.

7. Summarise, comment upon and analyse historical arguments and debates in an informed and coherent manner in written work, oral presentations and seminar discussions to a level that will lead to potential success in Year 1 of a BA History or related Humanities or Social Science degree.

Module information


Week 2: What is History? What is Historical Research? What is the United Kingdom? Britain in the lead up to WW2.
Week 3: Home Fires (World War 2)
Week 4: Attlee, Labour and the Welfare State (1945 to 1951)
Week 5: Thirteen Wasted Years? (1951 to 1963)
Week 6: The Short Sixties (1964-1969)
Week 7: Changing Relationships - Britain and the Wider World #1 (45- 69)
Week 8: The 1970s -The Decade of Decline #1
Week 9: The 1970s -The Decade of Decline #2
Week 10: Changing Relationships Britain and the Wider World #2 (70-79)
Week 11: Class test (on themes from the Autumn Term 1939 -1979)

Christmas break

Week 16: The 1980s #1. A Revolutionary Decade?
Week 17: The 1980s # 2 The Them & Us Society.
Week 18: Changing Relationships #3 Britain and the Wider World (80 –PD)
Week 19: Identity I: Britain Nowadays: Class & the Establishment
Week 20: Identity II: Britain Nowadays: Race, Ethnicity & Religion
Week 21: Identity III: Britain Nowadays: Gender & Sexuality
Week 22: Identity IV: Britain Nowadays: A Nation of 4 Nations!
Week 23: The 1990#s #1 A Major Solution?
Week 24: The 1990#s #2 Cool Britannia? Life in Blair's 'New' Britain
Week 25: From Millennium to Coalition 2000-2009. AKA the Noughties

Easter break

Week 30: The 'Twenty Tens' - From Labour Exit to Brexit.
Week 31: In Class test #2 (on themes from the Spring Term 1980 – PD)


Formative assessment:
There will be two formative assessments. In the Autumn Term a formative presentation on a great Briton or a great British event or the opposite - an indictment of a particular British person or British event. This is to give orientation to the course and practice for the summative OP the following term. In the Spring Term the formative assessment is on their self-run seminar on the British media (press TV etc.) This is to fit with our understanding of modern Britain and the way that it operates tying in particularly with our link at the issue of Identity.

Summative assessment:
An in-class test on themes in the first term (20%)
Students are tested on their understanding of themes and main areas covered in the first 9 weeks of the course. It will give an idea of the level of thought, reading, research and effort going into the course at this stage. The student can choose from several question areas

An oral presentation: 5-8 minutes (10%)
This OP is the first part of a two part Project – the second being the essay They chose a topic of interest to them connected to the UK and the time period under study, they also have to ensure that it is discursive/argumentative.

A process essay: 1,500 words (30%)
The essay title will be produced by the students in agreement with the lecturer it will be an expansion of (or linked to) the topic area in the OP. Based on what they have presented on in the OP they construct a research question for themselves (to make sure it is discursive/argumentative) and then proceed to address this question. This essay is to be submitted on FASer.

An in-class test on themes in the second term (30%)
Students are tested on their understanding of themes and main areas covered in the last 11 weeks of the course. With 50% in total being awarded in tests this ensures that the overriding topics and concerns from the lectures are being taken on board and understood. The student can choose from several question areas

A Participation Mark (10%)
The participation mark rewards involvement and engagement on the module, particularly that evidenced in contribution to seminar events including the 2 formative assessments and also their contribution to others' OPs e.g. engaging in discussion and answering questions.

Reassessment strategy

Failed Coursework - Resubmit a piece of coursework (1,500 words) which will be marked as 100% of the new module mark. The reassessment task will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met.

If the individual oral presentation has been failed, students will also be required to submit a 500-word presentation in notes/slides format. The weighting will be divided equally between the assignment and the 500-word presentation.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will run over 22 weeks and will be delivered via a two-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar per week. Some lectures involve the viewing of audio-visual material; seminars involve whole-group discussion of the weekly topic and set reading, small-group work and oral presentations.

Moodle will be used to distribute module documentation and learning materials.


  • Alwyn Turner. (2014) A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s, London: Aurum Press.
  • More, Charles. (2007) Britain in the twentieth century, Harlow: Pearson Longman.
  • (no date) Stewart Morris - A decade in crisis.
  • Dominic Sandbrook. (2010) State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974, London: Allen Lane.
  • Rollings, Neil. (2007) 'Britain and Europe', in Twentieth-century Britain: economic, cultural and social change, Harlow: Pearson Longman., pp.339-353
  • Clarke, P. F. (2004) Hope and glory: Britain, 1900-2000, London: Penguin.
  • Was it a social and cultural revolution?, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/sixties-britain/
  • Jennings, Rebecca. (2007) 'Sexuality', in Twentieth-century Britain: economic, cultural and social change, Harlow: Pearson Longman., pp.293-308
  • Andy McSmith. (2010) No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s, London: Constable.
  • Hennessy, Peter. (2006) Having It So Good: Allen Lane.
  • Andrew Marr. (2017) A history of modern Britain, London: Pan Books.
  • Morris, Stewart. (no date) Consensus politics in the 50s / 60s.
  • Stevenson, John. (1984) British Society, 1914-45, London: Penguin Books Ltd.
  • Alwyn Turner. (2010) Rejoice! Rejoice!: Britain in the 1980s: London.
  • Owen Jones. (2014) The Establishment: And how they get away with it, London: Allen Lane.
  • UK migration | 21st Century Challenges, https://21stcenturychallenges.org/uk-migration/
  • Reynolds, David. (2000) Britannia overruled: British policy and world power in the twentieth century, Harlow: Longman.
  • (2017) British cultural identities, New York, NY: Routledge.
  • (no date) Did The Thatcher Governments Change Britain - Stewart Morris.
  • Cohen, Stanley. (2011) Folk devils and moral panics: the creation of the Mods and Rockers, Abingdon: Routledge.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Participation    10% 
Coursework   Process Essay 1,500 Words    30% 
Practical   IA108 - Oral Presentation    10% 
Written Exam  IA108 - In-Class Test 1    20% 
Written Exam  In-Class Test 2    30% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Christopher Walklett, email: cwalk@essex.ac.uk.
Chris Walklett
Becky Humphreys (becky.humphreys@essex.ac.uk or 01206 872217)



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 722 hours, 226 (31.3%) hours available to students:
496 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Pathways

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