- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sarah Hall
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
According to Linda Colley, Great Britain was ‘invented’ as ‘a would-be nation, rather than a name’, by the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland. The Act created a strange sort of ‘sovereign’ state that has also acted as an ‘umbrella’ for four nations. How did this come about? It was by no means ‘inevitable’; rather, it was the culmination of a long and occasionally violent process lasting well over a century.
Important factors worked to bring the four ‘nations’ of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales together: the ruling dynasty; the Protestant religion; and the expansion of the English language, especially in print. Processes of integration went hand-in-hand with the marginalisation of speakers of Gaelic, Welsh, and Cornish, as well as Catholics and Protestant dissenters. To what extent were British identities shaped through colonial enterprise in what some call a British Atlantic world? Should we be considering transatlantic, rather than narrowly British, cultures in which the agency of Black Africans and Indigenous peoples comes to the fore?
Students on this wide-ranging course will travel through controversial events: the Protestant Reformations; the British civil wars; colonisation in North America and the rise of the transatlantic slave trade, and the Anglo-Scottish union of 1707. Using a range of contemporary sources, we will examine the forces that disrupted established identities and forged new ones. Throughout the course, students will assess what we mean by ‘national’ identities.
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The aims of this module are to:
Students who complete this module successfully will:
Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing (RAW) weeks during which there are no seminars, and during which students research and write a formative essay, consulting with the module tutor. Students prepare for eight seminars in all.
Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:
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Students submit a 2,000-word formative essay in week 9.
A 4,000-word summative essay will be due in the assessment period.
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Students will typically receive written feedback on their formative essay 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 formative essay during their tutor’s student hours—especially during week 11, before, that is, they finalise their plans for the Summative Essay.
For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.
For reading during the module, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading: