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Module HPS-2004:
Modern Ideas & Movements

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Overall aims and purpose

This module examines a range of key ideas from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and plots their impact on the politics, economics, culture and social structure of modern nation states. It combines a text-based approach with an analysis of why we study ideas and belief systems. Then it explores the ways in which these ideas can provide direction, become corrupted and create positive or negative changes in a particular culture or society.

Course content

Introduction: How do ideas influence events?

Fascist ideas and racist thinking
Nazi racial thinking and its impact on German policy


Keynesian economic ideas
Post-war economic policies in Britain

Nationalist Movements and Decolonisation

Social democracy and equality
The construction of welfare systems in Europe 1945-55

Friedman and neo-liberal economics
Reagan and Thatcher

Religion and religious fundamentalism
Iran and IS

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X
Human and civil rights: Ulster, USA and South Africa

Second wave feminism Britain

National identity
The Four Nations

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

Work will receive a C mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains superficial; covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth; advances a coherent and largely relevant argument; employs some limited evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only limited mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, contain some mistakes or be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.


Work will receive a B mark if it: is clear that it is based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in depth and detail; advances a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.


At this level, first-class work will have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail. It will usually also demonstrate an acute awareness of historiography and/or archaeological debate, and give an impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be high.


Work is marked D if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based partly on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers some of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only some parts of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical or inappropriate evidence; shows some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is often correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. Assess the impact of ideologies on political, social, economic and cultural action.

  2. Demonstrate knowledge of formative ideas of the twentieth century

  3. Relate ideas to movements.

  4. An ability to analyse primary evidence very closely - particularly setting them in context, and explaining their significance

  5. Present clear historical arguments in the form of essay answers.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Group Project

In groups, you will write and deliver a 40-50 minute presentation based on the short essay topic/question. Each group should submit their presentations (the script) TOGETHER with the sources (primary) and the presentation materials (e.g copy of PowerPoint presentation). This will need to be submitted formally the week before the start of the presentations. The actual presentation should not be different from the submitted script. The structure of the presentation should be based around the answer to the question you have been allocated. It should include an introduction which defines the question and a short overview of the historiography (be careful – keep this short because you have already answered the question individually using the historiography). It should then answer the question by using the primary sources. Analyse the significance of the sources


Each lecture will look at different socio-economic and political ideas. The lectures will then consider how these shaped different political parties and movements, social organisations and policies.


The seminars will take place in weeks 1-5. They will be informal sessions designed to give support and advice in preparing for your presentations.


In the second half of the module, there will be a drop-in tutorial session every week at which students can discuss any aspect of the module, the presentations and the essay

Private study 170

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life
  • the ability to identify a range of qualitative and quantitative research strategies and methods
  • the ability to undertake and present scholarly work
  • the ability to recognise the relevance of sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy.
  • Develop a sound appreciation of the variety of theories that comprise the discipline of social policy and how these impact on social policy interventions
  • Become cognizant with key conceptual debates within the field of contemporary social policy
  • Appreciate the value of and apply theoretical and methodological rigour to analyses of welfare issues;
  • Be aware of the ethical, social and political contexts within which social policy practice and research is conducted and delivered
  • Develop a knowledge and expertise with respect to a range of evidence-based policy making and practice.
  • Develop a sophisticated understanding of the processes of social policy analysis and evaluation.


Resource implications for students


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: