Module HTH-2129:
Thatcher's Britain

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Mari Wiliam

Overall aims and purpose

In the 1980s, under Conservative rule, Britain underwent what some consider an unprecedented process of social, political and economic change. Some argue that these changes were a direct consequence of the doctrine of ‘Thatcherism’ and the policies deployed by the Conservative government from 1979 onwards. In popular memory, many have come to remember the 1980s as a decade of rising crime and poverty, of crushed trade unions, unemployment, decimated communities, north/south divides, football hooliganism and high interest rates. However, this wholly negative view of the decade has recently been challenged by historians. Some now wish to view the decade in a more positive light, stressing the 1980s as a decade of unparalleled modernisation, social mobility and individualism. By examining these differing approaches and interpretations, this module analyses the historical legacy of the 1980s, examines the impact of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative governments on British society and assesses the impact of those changes on contemporary British social, cultural and political values. A Welsh medium seminar group may be offered if numbers are sufficient.

Course content

The dominant theme of the module is the examination of the 1979-83, 1983-87 and 1987-92 Conservative governments and their policies. Potential students should thus be aware that the main emphasis of the module is politics and political history, with a strong focus on socio-cultural interaction. Topics covered on the module include the origins of ‘Thatcherism’; the implementation of ‘Thatcherite’ policies after 1979; the Falklands war; the decline of the Labour party 1979-83; the miners strike of 1984/85; race riots and social decay in inner-city Britain; popular music and popular culture; foreign policy and the special relationship; the modernisation of Labour after 1983; the Hillsborough disaster; wealth, affluence and individualism and the break-up of Britain.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

threshold There are three grades for third-class performance: D+ (48%) Work is marked D+ if it: shows evidence of acceptable amounts of reading,but does not go much beyond what was referenced in lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers much of the necessary ground but fails to discuss one or a few vital aspects of a topic; deploys relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole, or sustains a clear argument only for the greater part of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points, but sometimes fails to do so, or shows difficulty in weighing evidence, or chooses unreliable evidence; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but without devoting sustained discussion to this; is for the most part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious problems in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but occasionally misunderstands their appropriate use or makes mistakes in their presentation.

D (45%) 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.

D- (42%) Work is marked D- if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based largely on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers parts of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some potentially relevant material but fails to bring it together into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only parts of the piece; occasionally deploys evidence to back some individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical, or inappropriate evidence; may show some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is in part 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.

In addition, for work that fails to meet the standard for honours:

E+ (38%) Reading: Work may show evidence of reading—but this is largely cursory Content: Work discusses a limited number of the basic aspects of a topic, but leaves many out; or shows largely a limited knowledge of those it discusses; or is short weight; or makes major mistakes about the pattern of events. Argument: Work is mostly badly organized; or has a largely unclear argument; or makes an argument which is quite irrelevant to the task in hand. Analysis: Work deploys only a limited amount of evidence and tends more to express opinion without much support from historical fact (or archaeological evidence); or misuses evidence; or indicates only a limited sense that evidence can be interpreted in different ways. Presentation: Work makes some serious mistakes in presentation or writing style or in coherence; or makes some serious errors in grammar, spelling, or paragraph construction (but see guidelines on dyslexia below). Scholarly apparatus: Work prone to misuse references and bibliography, or inconsistent in recognizing when these are essential.

good

good There are three grades for upper second-class performance:

B+ (68%) Work will receive a B+ mark if it is consistently strong in: covering the necessary ground in depth and detail; advancing a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analysis and deployment of an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and consideration of possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

B (65%) 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.

B- (62%) Work will receive a B- mark if it: is clearly based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in some depth and detail; advances a properly-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.

excellent

There are four grades for first-class performance:

A* (95%) At this level, first-class work earns its mark by showing genuine originality. It may advance a novel argument or deal with evidence which has not been considered before. Such originality of ideas or evidence is coupled with the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected of first-class work graded at A or A+. At this level, the work exhausts relevant secondary material, includes in dissertation work extensive and often unanticipated primary evidence, and betrays no factual or interpretative inaccuracy. It can also show a mastery of theory and deploy hypotheses subtly and imaginatively. In the case of essays and dissertations, work of this standard will be impeccable in presentation and will be publishable.

A+ (87%) At this level, first-class work will also have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail, but will further deploy the evidence consistently accurately and give indications of deploying unexpected primary and secondary sources. It will habitually demonstrate a particularly acute and critical awareness of the historiography and/or archaeological debate, including conceptual approaches, and give a particularly impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It will show a particularly sophisticated approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. It will be original work. The standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently first-class work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be very high.

A (80%) 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.

A- (74%) A first-class mark at this level is often earned simply by demonstrating one or more of the features of a good upper-second essay to a peculiar degree, for example presenting a particularly strong organization of argument, strong focus, wide range of reading, engagement with the historiography and/or archaeological debate, depth of understanding, an unobjectionable style, and strong presentation.

C- to C+

There are three grades for lower second-class performance:

C+ (58%) Work will receive a C+ mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains partially superficial; covers the important aspects of the relevant field, but in some places lacks depth; advances a coherent and relevant argument; employs some evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only a few or no mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient.

C (55%) 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.

C- (52%) Work will receive a C- mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but little knowledge of in-depth studies (for first-year work the student may not have read beyond a few standard works; at second or third year the student may not have read a good selection of journal articles and specialist monographs); covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth or misses a significant area (for second- and third-year work this may mean that 3 of 6 03 Jan 2017 it fails to deploy the historical details found in specialist literature); advances a coherent, and sometimes relevant argument, but drifts away from tackling the task in hand (for example, by ordering the argument in an illogical way, becoming distracted by tangential material, or lapsing into narrative of only partial pertinence); usually employs evidence to back its points, but occasionally fails to do so or deploys an insufficient range; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways, but may fail to get to the heart of the central scholarly debate or fully understand a key point (in second- and third-year work this may extend to a failure to discuss important subtleties or ambiguities in the evidence, or to a lack of awareness of the current state of historical or archaeological debate); is reasonably well presented and contains appropriate references and bibliography, but makes some mistakes in presentation or appropriate use.

Learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge of the overall development of the period will be gained through directed reading, lectures and seminar workshops.

  2. Knowledge of specific aspects of the period will be gained through directed reading, primary documents, lectures that deal with specific issues and aspects, and seminar workshop preparation and discussion.

  3. Awareness of competing historical interpretations will be fostered through directed reading, lectures which focus on aspects of historiographical debates and seminar discussions. The ability to judge between interpretations will be fostered by directed reading, analysis of interpretations in seminars and discussion and testing of judgements in the seminar workshops. Feedback on coursework essay plans will also foster student skills in this area.

  4. The ability to form and present historical arguments, and to back them with evidence will be promoted by experiencing constructive and objective argument in reading and lectures, by student participation in seminars and by feedback on coursework.

  5. Basic understanding of the value and importance of primary documents.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Supervised time in studio/workshop

1 x 2 hour oral history workshop

2
External visit

Day trip (c. 5 hours at location, travelling time extra) to Big Pit, National Coal Museum in Torfaen, south Wales.

5
Lecture 11
Seminar

1 hour seminar per week for 11 weeks

11
Private study 171

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: