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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Economic and Social History

Undergraduate Course: Leisure and the Rise of Industrial Society in Britain C.1780-1880 (ECSH10004)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course uses leisure, the manner in which free time was used and organised to investigate wider economic, social and cultural changes in Britain in the period from industrialisation to the later nineteenth century. In the process, the importance of differing experiences, according to class, age, gender, national and regional identities are also explored.
Course description Social and economic changes provide the essential context for the course. The period from about 1780 to 1880 marked the transformation of Britain from a largely rural society, structured around small towns and villages, to a substantially urban society, with a population increasingly located in large towns and cities. In terms of leisure, it witnessed a shift from what might be termed a 'traditional' to a recognisably 'modern' leisure culture- from a leisure calendar made up of occasional, mostly local events, to one in which events which were more national in scope and more regular, both in terms of the frequency with which they took place and the order by which they were conducted, bounded by formal sets of rules. By the 1880s, many of what we would think of as modern leisure forms were in place. Definite limits were placed on the length of the working week, providing increasingly fixed and predictable times for leisure. The same applied to leisure during year, with the introduction of fixed Bank Holidays across the country from the 1870s. It also saw the emergence of 'national' leisure forms: Music Hall; holidaymaking; the rise of national sporting events familiar today. Various themes may be seen to run through the topics, including the balance between change and continuity in society, the means by which change occurred, the impact of class differences, and the importance of continued tensions within as well as between the classes. The course thus offers a distinctive take on themes central to the social and economic history of modern Britain.


1: Introduction.

2: Pre-Industrial Leisure Culture.

3: Leisure and Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century.

4: Time, Work and Money: the material pre-conditions for leisure.

5: Middle-class Leisure: religion and respectability.

6: Guidance on essays: submission and assessment of essay plans.

7: Working-class Leisure: roughness and respectability.

8: Athleticism and the Rise of Organised Sport.

9: Holiday making.

10: The Music Hall: the rise of a commercial entertainment industry.

11: Guidance session on gobbets and essay returns.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Directors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503783).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
1. P. Borsay, A History of Leisure: The British Experience since 1500 (Basingstoke, 2006).

2. H. Cunningham, 'Leisure and culture',
in F.M.L. Thompson, ed., The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol.2. People and their environment (Cambridge, 1990), pp.279-339.

3. W. Hamish Fraser, 'Developments in Leisure',
in W. Hamish Fraser and R.J. Morris, eds., People and Society in Scotland. II. 1830-1914 (Edinburgh, 1990), pp.236-64.

4. T. Griffiths, Work, Leisure and Time in the Nineteenth Century, in T. Griffiths and G. Morton (eds), A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1800 to 1900 (Edinburgh, 2010), pp.170-95.

5. D.A. Reid, Playing and Praying, in M. Daunton, ed., The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Volume III, 1840-1950 (Cambridge, 2000), pp.745-807.

6. J.M. Golby and A.W. Purdue, The Civilisation of the Crowd. Popular Culture in England, 1750-1900 (1984).

7. E. King, Popular Culture in Glasgow, in R.A. Cage (ed.,), The Working Class in Glasgow, 1750-1914 (Beckenham, 1987), pp.142-87.

8. H. Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, 1780-1880 (1980).

9. N. Tranter, Sport, economy and society in Britain, 1750-1914 (Cambridge, 1998).

10. J. Flanders, Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain (2006).

11. R. Holt, Sport and the British. A Modern History (Oxford, 1989).

12. H.-J. Voth, Time and Work in England, 1750-1830 (Oxford, 2000),

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Sessions run 11.30am - 1 pm, not standard University teaching period
KeywordsLeisure and the Rise
Course organiserDr Trevor Griffiths
Tel: (0131 6)50 6897
Course secretaryMs Caroline Grevers
Tel: (0131 6 )51 1196
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