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HIS2310 : Land and Society in the USA, Ireland and Scotland, c. 1840-1922

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Annie Tindley
  • Lecturer: Professor Bruce Baker, Dr Fergus Campbell
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of this module are two-fold:

1. To introduce and immerse the students in critical reflection around the social, cultural, economic and political aspects of how land issues drove and impacted on Britain, the USA and Ireland, with a heavy emphasis on linking these three case studies to the emerging field of environmental humanities. There is an extensive literature on these themes, and material from cognate disciplines (geography; sociology; landscape studies/fiction/poetry) will be included.

2. To support the students to better identify then develop their skills, including those traditionally associated with History teaching (independent research and study; critical and reflective thinking; information literacy; written expression), and broader skills associated with employability (oral and personal presentation; team work; managing different audiences; entrepreneurialism).

Both aims are addressed in the teaching content and methods and in the assessment types. The module also aims to support the wider progression of the students and what is expected from them at Stage 2, building on their foundational Stage 1 year and preparing them for Stage 3.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module examines issues of land ownership, management and reform transnationally, with a focus on three case studies: the USA, Scotland and Ireland. In each of these places, land reform has played a major political, economic and cultural role in the modern period. A list of topics that may be included are:

Introducing the topic and frameworks; the transnational turn in history; comparative approaches; the sources; modern Irish, Scottish and US context.

Case study 1 - the USA. Coverage from the 1840s to the 1920s including the Homestead Act, the Civil War and Reconstruction and all aspects of land reform - political, social, cultural and economic.

Case study 2 – Ireland. The Irish case study will consider the impact of protest on land reform and also what ideology or vision these movements had for Irish society in terms of land use. Overall, the Irish case may well have similarities with the USA and Scotland but it also may have strong differences particularly given the colonial or quasi colonial way in which Ireland was governed under the act of union (1801-1922).

Case study 3 - Scotland. In 2019 Scotland has the most concentrated land ownership patterns in Europe. This case study looks at why this is the case historically and the efforts that have been made between the 1880s and the present day to break down these patterns and how they compare and influenced land reform in other places as diverse as colonial India, Australia and Canada. Like in the USA and Ireland, land reform has been a major political issue in the modern period and was also related to issues around poor living and housing standards, military and imperial priorities, electoral reform and language politics.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Two PiP lectures per week, counting towards student contact hours.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion651:0065:00Assessment preparation study: split between the two assessments
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading561:0056:00Reading and preparation tasks for seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities111:0011:00Pre and post lecture tasks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00One seminar per week: PiP.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study351:0035:00General consolidation activities
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As a Stage 2 module, aside from an in-depth understanding of the content of the module, the teaching methods, which focus on small group work, presentational and oral skills, team work, lecture delivery and independent research and writing, relate to the core learning outcomes of supporting students in developing sophisticated research skills across a wide range of sources, being able to synthesise the information they collect and form convincing and coherent arguments.

Independent learning is essential to this module: students are expected to develop skills of source evaluation, critical reading and note-taking in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to share and debate information gathered independently. In addition, students will be required to work in small teams to deliver a poster and oral presentation, enhancing their team-working experience and skills. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis and problem solving.

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

LECTURES enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation101M25Group presentation of a poster delivered in seminars: equivalent to 500 words max per person
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A75Research essay, 3000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal1MStudents will complete a proposal for their research essay, to build in formative feedback and direction. 500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module (1) supports and assesses student progression at Stage 2 and (2) endeavours to support their skills development, including academic and employability.

1. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining the student’s progress.

A formative exercise of a research proposal will be set for this module. It will be un-assessed, but will be discussed in the seminars, will support students develop their ideas for the research essay and their research design skills generally and will feed into the assessed work.

Presentation: Students will be allocated into groups of 3 at the beginning of the module and will be required to select a topic around which they will research, design and produce (via PowerPoint slide) a poster, which they will them collectively present in seminar.

The group work element requires students to work as part of a team, set their own deadlines and goals, allocate work together and then present it. Organisational and time management skills are to the fore here. The research essay emphasises independent thinking and learning (supported by the Module Team), research literacy and finding skills, writing and structuring skills and working to deadlines.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module (i.e. the group presentation and poster) forms a means of determining student progress. Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

Research essay: this prepares students for longer and more in-depth research practices in History in stage 3 including: developing research questions and methodologies; sourcing data and writing / constructing an argument. The essay will be comparative in approach, ensuring students engage with the transnational and comparative methodologies explored during the module.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists