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Britain in the 1970s: Between New Society and No Society (HI399)

Module Leader

Professor Mathew Thomson
Office: Room 310, third floor of the Humanities Building


This module examines modern British history through an in-depth focus on the single decade of the 1970s. The period has often been seen as time of social and national crisis, key in destabilisation of the post-war settlement and in bringing about a turn to right from 1979 under Margaret Thatcher. Others have pointed out that the decade saw levels of equality at an historical high and that the experience for many was of social security and liberation. Until recently, there was little historical work that took us into such recent realms of national history, but the period is fast emerging as a focus for exciting new historical research. You will have the opportunity to engage with the emerging debates and to make you own contribution through original research.

The module is taught through weekly two-hour seminars. A set of introductory ‘frameworks’ seminars will introduce you to the historical debates about the period. We will then turn to a series of detailed ‘case studies’, which we will tackle as collaborative mini research projects, drawing on recent historical writing but also a rich variety of primary sources. A final set of ‘synthesis’ seminars will involve you in pulling together our findings on the ‘case studies’ into a series of broader, connected thematic analyses and arguments about this period of British history. You will be assessed through three essays, one focusing on each section of the module, the first contributing 10% of your final mark, the second and third 40% each. The first will address historiography, the second will focus on one of our case studies and will involve primary source analysis, the third will develop a broader argument about the period drawing on work across the module as a whole. A final 10% of your mark will be based on seminar performance and an individual presentation.