Module Catalogue 2019/20

HIS3221 : Birth Control in the 19th & 20th Centuries

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Violetta Hionidou
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

N/A

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

N/A

Aims

In England couples started consciously reducing the number of children they had from around 1870. In less than 100 years ALL couples were doing so. A similar transition occurred earlier in France and the USA. Why did such a transition occur in the nineteenth century for the first time? This module examines the availability of birth control methods (including abortion) as well as the knowledge and acceptance of the various methods by the people. We will explore the methods used by members of the different classes and the reasons for the wide variation between them. By 1918, the central issue for the middle classes, who had already achieved very low fertility, was centred on the husband-wife sexual relationship. We will be using the most popular sex manual as our main primary text, Married Love by Marie Stopes, and we will examine its impact in shaping expectations. We will also explore the role of eugenics in shaping much of the birth control discourse in the early part of the twentieth century. The various players such as medical doctors, the church and the state and their stance towards birth control will also be discussed. Last but not least, we will assess the importance of the pill and whether this was really responsible for the sexual revolution.

While the geographical focus of the module is on Britain, we will also be drawing parallels with the experience of other European countries and the USA.
We will be using a wide variety of primary sources including oral history.

The aims of this module are:
•To enable students to study an aspect of history in depth but also across cultures and over a long
period of time.
•To introduce students to historical research and to guide them in the analysis of primary documents
and texts.
•Thereby to enable students to develop their own interpretation of a particular aspect of history.
•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 and to develop the capacity for
independent study
•To provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal
of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only, actual subjects may differ from those listed.
Seminar 1 – Britain in the early nineteenth century: setting the background
Seminar 2 – Malthus and population
Seminar 3 – Fertility change from the late nineteenth century onwards
Seminar 4 – Sexuality
Seminar 5 – Abortion
Seminar 6 – Technologies and knowledge of birth control
Seminar 7 – Attitudes to birth control
Seminar 8 – Eugenics and birth control
Seminar 9 – Marie Stopes, sexuality and birth control in Britain
Seminar 10 –Margaret Sanger and the USA
Seminar 11 –The pill and sexual revolution
Seminar 12 –Conclusion and Revision Session

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will gain knowledge of the range of sources available for the study of birth control and
abortion and the debates surrounding their use with a special focus on nineteenth and twentieth
century populations including Britain, USA, Greece and others.
They will have a critical awareness of the historiography surrounding birth control and
its inter-relationship with the historiography concerning fertility regulation.

Intended Skill Outcomes

•       Students are expected to improve their ability to read quickly and with an eye for the distinction between the particular and the general (in taking notes on the material they read to prepare themselves for seminars and the examination).
•       To argue clearly and succinctly both on paper (in their examination) and orally (in their contributions to the seminars).
•       To improve their bibliographic and library skills.
•       To manage their time (in order to prepare for the seminars and the examination).
•       Students will thus develop their capacity for independent study and critical judgement and the ability to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study; and also associated skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching123:0036:00Seminar
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1802A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M25Essay/doc.commentary of 1,500 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MFor most teaching weeks, the students are asked to submit a documentary commentary which is marked and returned to them.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Exams test 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.

Documentary commentary exercises and examinations test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticize a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space, and, in an exam, under pressure of time.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. Submitted work tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research, reading and writing.
This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Timetable

Past Exam Papers

General Notes

N/A

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.