HIS2031 : Between Revolutions: Britain 1688-1789

  • Offered for Year: 2012/13
  • Module Leader(s): Prof. Helen Berry
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The 'long' eighteenth century provides the chronological bridge between the early modern and modern worlds. Though the period between the 'Glorious' Revolution of 1688 and the French Revolution of 1789 is seldom studied by students at school, it is a fascinating era, knowledge of which is vital in order to understand how Britain became a modern nation. In just over a century, the population of England and Wales doubled, there was a radical shift from rural to urban living, and economic prosperity accompanied the rise of the new 'middling sorts' - socially aspirational people seeking 'polite' status.

Lectures will introduce the major political, social and cultural changes that took place at this time, exploring critical subjects such as: the emergence of modern party politics; the career of Sir Robert Walpole (Britain's first Prime Minister); urbanization, war and the expansion of the British Empire; the role of women and creation of a new leisure economy via theatres, opera houses, assembly rooms and pleasure gardens. Historical debates will be explored in detail, such as the forging of a British national identity and the failure of Jacobitism, the revival in Scottish nationalism, and the eighteenth-century 'print revolution'.

There is also the opportunity to engage via seminars and workshops with a fascinating range of primary documents from the period - including newspapers, coffee house periodicals, plays, and novels. Particular attention will be given to the material culture of the period, using printed sources, art history, architecture and visual culture.

The primary aim of this module is to provide students with a strong grounding in the social, political, cultural and economic history of Britain in the eighteenth century.

The module in general aims to:
• Provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it;
• Practice written communication skills (with the opportunity to gain individual feedback on improving exam performance by writing a class essay);
• Practice oral communication skills in seminars via small group working;
• Practice a range of study skills via a series of hands-on ‘coffee house’ workshops;
• Develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures may vary, but the following are examples of the themes that may be covered:

Introduction to the Long Eighteenth Century
The Revolution of 1688/9 and Constitutional Settlement
Social Change
The Rise of Party and Hanoverian Succession
Walpole and the Whig Supremacy
Consumer Culture
Jacobitism and the Scottish Question
The poor
Women and children
War, Seapower and Empire
Print Culture and the Rise of the Mass Media
Popular Politics

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:0040% of guided indendent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:0040% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Individual scheduled tutorials - one per student
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:0032:0020% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures impart core knowledge and an outline of knowledge that students are expected to acquire and they stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills.
Preparation for the seminars and examination will require students to undertake a programme of private reading, requiring good time management and personal responsibility for learning.
Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.
The seminar will develop the oral communication skills of team members. Seminar preparation will require the student to read and analyse critically a range of literature, including some primary sources.
Seminars also encourage participation and preparation, and are part of the formative experience of the module, even though they are not assessed. The preparation for seminar presentations will give students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the eighteenth century through private reading.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1352A60unseen
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M402000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes and develops key skills in research, reading and writing. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. The exam tests acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided, and to write clearly and concisely.

ERASMUS students at Newcastle One 2,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all work required of domestic students. It remains the case that, if an ERASMUS student specifically requests that s/he be permitted to do the same assessments as the domestic students, that option remains open to them. No variation of the deadlines will be allowed except on production of medical or equivalent evidence

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.