Module HGH-3119:
Britain 1945-1990

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Peter Shapely

Overall aims and purpose

This module examines a range of key events of British history between 1945 and 1990. Students will be introduced to rival interpretations of the period and equipped to judge between them. Students will be encouraged to synthesise their understanding of the period as a whole and encouraged to take a specialised interest in specific aspects of the period and module.

Course content

Part One - The political framework The Attlee governments, 1945-51; The Conservative governments, 1951-1964 The Wilson governments, 1964-1970 Heath and Callaghan, 1970-1979 The Thatcher years, 1979-1990 Part Two - key themes The Welfare State Economic restructuring End of Empire and Declonisation The Cold War Britain and Europe The Troubles Devolution Popular culture Unequal Britain Immigration and race

Assessment Criteria


Excellent A: Students will show this solid achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.

Detailed description can be found in the module handbook.


Threshold D: Students will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies.

Detailed description can be found in the module handbook.


Good B: Students will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the above paragraph.

Detailed description can be found in the module handbook.

Learning outcomes

  1. Judge between alternative historical interpretations of the period, including current historiographical positions.

  2. Demonstrate a close familiarity with primary sources developed through engagement with and analysis of these sources.

  3. Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of the overall course of events and patterns of development in Britain between 1945 and 1990.

  4. Show a detailed knowledge of specific aspects of the period.

  5. Synthesise historical arguments about both long term developments and specific aspects of the period in Britain between 1945 and 2000 (in assessed essays and examination answers).

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Long essay

Students will be expected to highlight the extent to which they have understood the learning outcomes through writing clear cogent essays which will show their knowledge of important issues and historiographical debate, their understanding of the structure, policies and practices of post-war Britain Questions will test knowledge and understanding of the strategies used to secure and maintain power. Answers will be graded by considering the scope of reading; use of primary evidence; content; focus and clarity of argument; analysis; presentation; and the ability to use references and bibliography appropriately.

Answers will be expected to show detailed knowledge of the topic they deal with; to analyse evidence and interpretations in depth; to engage with current historiographic controversies; and to make extensive and appropriate use primary evidence.

ESSAY Short essay

You will be given a topic based on the lecture list/essay questions. You will be expected to produce a review of the literature, critically engaging with the arguments and debates.

GROUP PRESENTATION Group presentation

This will be based on the same question as the short essay but focusing on the primary sources rather than the historiography. It must be handed in the week before the start of the presentations (date tbc).This is a team exercise. This is a team exercise and will be given a group mark. Each student will be expected to make an equal contribution to the actual presentation (ie four students, 15 minutes each).


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Group Project

These will take place in weeks 6-10. There will be FOUR sessions per week. In groups, you will write and deliver a 60 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. Avoid giving a commentary.


The teaching will be 3 lectures a week for the first five weeks


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

Private study 155

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.


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
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • 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

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: