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Britain & the World Since 1945 - HIS00117I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Benjamin Bland
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This course concerns the origins of Britain’s current politics, economy, culture and climate. It explores Britain’s history from the end of the Second World War to the present, emphasizing the ways that Britain shaped, and was in turn shaped, by the wider world. The story begins with Britain in 1945 as a vast, victorious war machine on the verge of bankruptcy, using increasing amounts of violence to retain control of its world-spanning empire. It ends in the present, with Britain facing an uncertain future, attempting to remake its place in the international order, as its economy stalls and while it faces an existential threat from anthropogenic climate change.

The course will cover many of the familiar narratives of post-war British history: the rise and fall of social democracy, the collapse of Britain’s empire, deindustrialization, migration, the transformation of the family, the Cold War and the battles fought by women, queer people and people of colour for representation and survival. It will also cover some more unusual themes such as climate change, tax havens and Britain’s place within the 2008 economic crisis. The course will be an opportunity for students to engage with and form their own ideas about some of the latest, cutting-edge thinking about modern British history. We will also use various primary sources including films, music and works of art and literature to reconstruct the lives of people in Britain and elsewhere that were caught up in the vortices of these historical processes.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth;
  • To develop students’ ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material; and
  • To combine seminar preparation and discussion of the topic being studied with extended independent work on a project devised by the student.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching
  • gain experience of working collaboratively through an assessed group project

Module content

Teaching Programme:
This 30-credit module is taught through a weekly two-hour seminar run from weeks 2-10 in the spring term and a four week period of project work undertaken in weeks 1-4 of the summer term. Students will complete their group project work within that period and tutors should arrange to be available for consultation with students twice during that time. There will be no formal seminar teaching during this period.

Seminars will likely cover the following areas:

  1. Britain and the World at the end of the Second World War
  2. National economic development
  3. Decolonization, the Cold War and the rise of American power
  4. Migration, race and civil right
  5. Gender, the household and the workplace
  6. Britain and the global economy in the 1970s
  7. Neoliberalism and its discontents
  8. Affluence, inequality and the end of history
  9. Brexit, climate change and history’s return

The group project will consist of an in-depth analysis of a person (for example Kwame Nkrumah, Mary Whitehouse or John Lennon) a space (for example, the University of York, the London Docklands or Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre) or a text (for example the Schumann declaration on European integration, the film ‘Cathy Come Home’ or a photograph by the black radical photographer Vanley Burke) that illuminates one or more important themes about the recent history of Britain and the world. Students are encouraged to show a deep understanding of this period of British history while making creative selections of suitable subjects and drawing on primary sources to analyse them and argue for their significance.


Task Length % of module mark
3,000 word group project
N/A 33
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open Exam - Britain and the World Since 1945
8 hours 67

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment will be a group presentation between weeks 5 and 7 of the spring term.

For summative assessment students take a 24-hour open exam in the summer term assessment period, usually released at 11:00 on day 1 and submitted at 11:00 on day 2. For those taking two Explorations modules the 24-hour open exams are held on consecutive days, with both papers released at 11:00 on day 1 and both due for submission on 11:00 of day 3.

Students also submit a piece of written work for their group project of no more than 3,000 words in week 5 of the summer term.

The exam carries 67% of assessment and the project element 33% for this module.

Students who need to be reassessed in the project component of this module (for example due to Exceptional Circumstance) will be required to submit in the summer reassessment period a shorter individual project (2,000 words) which should include a short reflection (500 words max) on group work, considering how this project could be expanded if a team of three to four people were working on it. Students should consider how they would divide up the research tasks, and reflect briefly on problems which might arise and how they would manage them. Module tutors will advise on the content and design of this project.


Task Length % of module mark
3,000 word group project
N/A 33
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open Exam - Britain and the World Since 1945
8 hours 67

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline unless submitted in week 5 of the summer term, in which case these are available within 25 working days. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Tehila Sasson et. al., “Britain and the World: A New Field?” Journal of British Studies, Vol. 57, Issue 4 (October 2018): 677-708.

James Vernon, Modern Britain, 1750 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), Parts 4 and 5 only.

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.