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The Coming of the Railways to Britain, 1825-1900 - CED00007M

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  • Department: Centre for Lifelong Learning
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. David Turner
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Introduce railway history as an academic subject
  • Introduce the teaching methods on the course
  • Instruct the students on the appropriate academic skills for essay writing, such as critical analysis, argument, referencing, and research
  • Introduce academic standards expected in written work
  • Describe what Britain was like geographically, socially and economically before the arrival of the railways
  • Explore the construction and development of the British railway network from 1825 onwards, and the engineering accomplishments of nineteenth century railway builders.
  • Discuss how the British government did not plan the construction of the railway network, compared with the foreign governments who exercised greater control.
  • Show how the building of the railways changed the structure, nature and character of villages, towns and cities
  • Demonstrate how the arrival of the railways altered trading patterns within Britain
  • Discuss how the building of the railways opened up opportunities for individuals to travel that had never existed previously
  • Explore how the railways, through the construction of works facilities, led to the establishment and development of railway towns
  • Discuss how the development of the railway industry led to the expansion of the capital markets
  • Introduce outstanding historical debates regarding the extent of the impact of the railways had on the British economy
  • Offer opportunities for students to respond and comment on the arguments of previous scholars, as well as critique the opinions of their peers.

Module learning outcomes

By the conclusion of the module the student should be able to:

  • Show an understanding of how the British railway network developed, as well as the engineering accomplishments of the nineteenth century railway companies.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how the railways changed aspects of British social and economic life
  • Express opinions on existing debates in the literature and formulate their own
  • Write sustained work that offers a measured, convincing and scholarly argument
  • Demonstrate research skills by engaging with both primary and secondary source material
  • Select and organise appropriate information effectively so as to develop coherent opinions and arguments
  • Consider and solve problems, including complex problems to which there is no single solution
  • Write work that is sustained offering a measured, convincing and scholarly argument.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

The tutor will give regular individual feedback throughout the module on work submitted.

The assessment feedback is as per the university’s guidelines with regard to timings.

Indicative reading

Reading lists, and the availability of texts/journals electronically, are subject to change: please check with Lifelong Learning/teaching staff before making any purchases prior to the start of the module.

Required Reading

  • Bagwell, P. and Lyth, P, Transport in Britain, (London: 2002).
  • Casson, Mark, “The Efficiency of the Victorian British Railway Network: A Counterfactual Analysis”, Networks and Spatial Economics 9, 3, (2009) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Gourvish, T.R., “Railways 1830-70: The Formative Years”, in Aldcroft, Derek H. and Freeman, Michael J., Transport in Victorian Britain, (Manchester, 1988) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Heller, Mike, “Suburbia, marketing and stakeholders: developing Ilford, Essex, 1880–1914,” Urban History 41, 1 (2014) - SUPPLIED DIGITALLY.
  • Michael J., Transport in Victorian Britain, (Manchester, 1988) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Simmons, Jack, The Railway in Town and Country, 1830-1914, (Newton Abbott, 1983)
  • Pope, Norris, “Dickens's “The signalman" and information problems in the railway age,” Technology and Culture 42. – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY

Recommended Reading

  • Armstrong, John, “The Role of Coastal Shipping in UK Transport: An Estimate of Comparative Traffic Movements in 1910,” The Journal of Transport History 8, 1987. – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Dyos, H.J. “Workmen’s Fares in South London”, Journal of Transport History 1, 3 (1954). – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Hawke, G.R., Railways and Economic Growth in England and Wales, 1840-1870, (Oxford, 1970) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Kellett, John R., Railways and Victorian Cities, (London, 1969) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY
  • Schivelbusch, Wolfgang, The Railway Journey, (California, 2014, reprint edition) – SUPPLIED DIGITALLY

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.