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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 358
Course Title: The Making of Modern Britain
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

This course explores the most important social, economic and political developments in the Britain since the beginning of the eighteenth century.  It covers topics including Britain’s century-long conflict with France in the 1700s, the rise of industrial society, Victorian ideas and attitudes, British feminism, the rise and fall of the British Empire, the emergence of the Labour Party and British socialism, the impact of the two world wars, and postwar political and social changes.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Occasional offering.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

- Choose a PRIMARY SOURCE from among the following:
† -- Text 1†
† -- Texts 2 and 3 combined
† -- Texts 4 and 5 combined
- In addition, choose at least two texts from among Texts 6-20.

A History of Modern Britain, 1714 to the Present
By Wasson, Ellis (Wiley-Blackwell)
Category/Comments - PRIMARY SOURCE
The Age of Aristocracy: 1688-1830
By Willcox, William B. Bradford and Walter L. Arnstein (Houghton Mifflin)
Category/Comments - PRIMARY SOURCE (pair with Text 3)
Britain Yesterday and Today: 1830 to the Present
(Houghton Mifflin)
Category/Comments - PRIMARY SOURCE (pair with Text 2)
The Peoples of the British Isles: A New History from 1688 to 1870
By Heyck, Thomas William (Lyceum)
Category/Comments - PRIMARY SOURCE (pair with Text 5)
The Peoples of the British Isles: A New History from 1870 to the Present
By Heyck, Thomas William (Lyceum)
Category/Comments - PRIMARY SOURCE (pair with Text 4)
Sources and Debates in Modern British History, 1714 to the Present
By Wasson, Ellis, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell)
Category/Comments - Primary Sources Reader
There Ainít No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation
By Gilroy, Paul (University of Chicago Press)
Popular Politics in Nineteenth-Century England
By McWilliam, Rohan (Routledge)
The Birth of Industrial Britain: Social Change 1750-1850
By Morgan, Kenneth (Pearson Longman)
Coming Up for Air
By Orwell, George (Harvest Books)
The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes
By Rose, Jonathan (Yale University Press)
Britain Under Thatcher
By Seldon, Anthony and Daniel Collings (Longman)
Life isnít All Ha Ha Hee Hee
By Syal, Meera (Picador)
Small Island
By Levy, Andre (Picador)
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
By Wollstonecraft, Mary (Penguin)
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
By Equiano, Olaudah (Bedford/St. Martin's)
A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884-1926
The Condition of the Working Class in England
By Engels, Freidrich (Penguin)
She: A History of Adventure
By Haggard, H. Rider (Oxford World Classics)
The Road to Wigan Pier
By Orwell, George (Mariner Books)
Course Objectives

  • To develop an intellectual perspective which recognizes the interrelated political, economic and cultural factors involved in British historical change since the early 1700s.
  • To heighten awareness of the specific contributions and perspectives of diverse members and constituencies in British society.
  • To understand the emergence of new political constituencies, and efforts within Britain to appeal to and co-opt them over the course of the last three centuries.
  • To understand the influence of the past on contemporary events and problems in Britain, or, in other words, to develop “historical mindedness.”

    Measurable Learning

  • Describe major eighteenth-century developments pertaining to British state-formation.
  • Explain major reasons for, and effects of British industrialization in terms of political, economic, social and cultural change.
  • Identify and characterize key effects of the French Revolutionary struggle upon British society and politics.
  • Describe major 19th-century political reforms, and the political and public pressures which gave rise to them.
  • Explain core cultural concerns which emerged during the Victorian period, including religiosity, scientific authority, and the centrality of middling-class values.
  • Identify motivating factors for British imperialism/colonization, including economic, cultural and political factors.
  • Explain the effects of empire upon domestic British society.
  • Describe the emergence of “mass politics" in Britain, in terms of new political discourses, media, and forms of political organization.
  • Explain the struggles accompanying British decolonization during the 20th-century, including the effects of decolonization upon Britain’s perceived geopolitical status.
  • Explain how changing relationship of gender, race, and class affected Britain at key historical moments.
  • Identify major reasons for and characteristics of youth culture as it emerged in Britain during the 1950s.
  • Analyze Thatcherism as a response to perceived economic and social malaise of the 1970s.
  • Describe the changing configurations of political culture in Britain during the 1990s with the emergence of New Labour.

    Topical Outline:

    Because the course represents an upper-level history elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers).†The course reading load should be at least 1000 pp.; the course writing assignments should total c5000 words.

    • The structure of society in the 18th century
    • Intellectual currents: the British Enlightenment
    • War, the state & the 18-th century empire
    • The impact of the French Revolution
    • Post-Napoleonic war politics, liberalism, and reform
    • The emergence of Chartism
    • Darwinism and cultural change in the later Victorian period
    • Victorian women: ideals/realities
    • Britain and the "new imperialism"
    • Challenges to the liberal state: trade-unionism; feminism; Home-Rule
    • Britain, World War One, and interwar challenges
    • World War 2 and British society
    • The creation of the welfare state
    • Decolonization in select sites
    • British culture in the 1950's
    • Challenges of the 1960's: youth movements; immigration; Northern Irelan
    • Stagflation and the 1970's
    • From Thaterism to New Labour
    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: David Karr Date: November 4, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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