HIS3322 : The British Landed Classes, 1832-1945: decline and fall or resistance and resilience? (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module will examine the modern history of the British landed, aristocratic and gentry classes, using as its principal theoretical framework David Cannadine’s ‘decline and fall’ thesis (D. Cannadine The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, London, 1990). the module will cover the period from the Great Reform Act (1832) – the first significant challenge to aristocratic political dominance in Britain – to 1945 and the end of WWII, widely regarded as the economic, political and social nadir of the landed classes. Some consideration will also be given to the potential patterns of recovery in the postwar era with the rise of the heritage industry and the increasing value of commercial sport and wider land values.

Students will be asked to interrogate this thesis in the ‘four nations context (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland), while building a clear picture of the wider European and Imperial fields of operation occupied by the landed classes.

The module aims to take students through the key trends and historiographical debates of landed estates history, placing the use and interpretation of primary sources at the core of their experience.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will provide students with an in-depth study of the British landed classes from the Great Reform Act (1832) to the end of World War II (1945). This one hundred year period sees huge changes and challenges to the traditional dominance of social and aristocratic elites in Britain and Ireland, but this module will take a nuanced and critical approach to the topic, with an emphasis on the use of primary sources to understand the nature of change and resilience displayed by this group.

The module has been structured both thematically and to follow a rough chronology, and is broken down into four sections.

Block One: the territorial power of the landed classes – finances, economics, estate management and land, land sales and ‘new’ money.

Block Two: the political power of the landed classes – local and central government, imperial governance and the House of Lords.

Block Three: the social power of the landed classes – high society, political and imperial society, the country house and the town house.

Block Four: the landed classes in modern Britain and Ireland – survival or collapse?

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00Coursework surgery time
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As a special subject, aside from an in-depth understanding of the content of the module, the teaching methods, which focus on small group work, 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. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis.

Small group teaching will allow the students to explore ideas and patterns together in a structured way, and great emphasis will be placed on primary sources and their interpretation. This will be assisted by a organised visit to Newcastle University Special Collections (which house a number of important estate/family records) and an optional trip to a local property (Wallingford or Cragside, both now National Trust properties).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M20Documentary analysis/commentary of 1000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Essay2A80Extended essay of 3000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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 criticise a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space, and, in an exam, under pressure.

The extended essay gives students the opportunity to investigate a topic of special interest. The essay requirements acquaint students with the kind of independent research and writing skills expected with the dissertation at Year 3, including: developing a research question, investigation and synthesis of primary and secondary sources, understanding of key historiographical debates and managing an extended timeline for a project.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key 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.
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.

Reading Lists