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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : History, Classics and Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: A Land Fit for Heroes? Britain and the British Empire between the two world wars (LLLE07038)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryExplore Britain and its empire between the wars, from its powerful position after the First World War, through social and economic challenges at home, growing unrest within the Empire and mounting tensions in Europe.
Course description 1. Introduction and Overview

2. "Winning the Peace": The Treaty of Versailles and beyond

3. "The Roaring Twenties": Life in post-war Britain

4. "Yet more red": the British Empire and Commonwealth in the post-war period

5. "MacBaldwinism": Tory resurgence and the rise of the Labour Party

6. "Slump": the Great Depression

7. "An end in sight": Britain and the nationalist movement in India

8. "Dangerous Promises": Britain and the Middle East

9. "Appeasement": Keeping the peace in Europe

10. "Once more unto the breach": Britain and the Empire at the outbreak of the Second World War

Britain emerged victorious from the Great War. With the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires in ruins, and Russia in the midst of revolution, Britain's position as the greatest world power of its day seemed yet further well-established.

However Britain's resources had been sorely tested and, with the return to peace, social and economic challenges which had already been apparent before the war became steadily more pronounced. Growing industrial strife culminated in the General of Strike of 1926 and the economy plunged into depression with the onset of the worldwide slump in 1929.

In India, which contained three quarters of the Empire's population, the nationalist movement was gaining in momentum, whilst similar developments, in Egypt, Palestine and elsewhere, were also testing Britain's resolve.

Peace did not bring enduring stability to Europe and, with increasingly belligerent totalitarian governments in Germany, Italy and Japan, Britain was forced to come to terms with renewed tensions on the Continent and further afield.

This course will examine the serious challenges that Britain faced, both at home and overseas, as it was forced to come to terms with its relative decline as a great power, against a backdrop of growing tensions in Europe and elsewhere.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 0
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate an understanding of the history of Britain and the British Empire during the interwar period, including economic decline and rising industrial unrest in Britain, and the impact of nationalist movements in India and elsewhere;
  2. demonstrate through oral contribution in classes, and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to analyse the primary sources, and to handle critically the secondary sources;
  3. demonstrate, through oral contribution in classes, and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to conduct research and to structure ideas;
  4. demonstrate, through oral contribution in classes and through the assessment where applicable, an ability to organize their own learning and to manage their workload.
Reading List
1. Niall Ferguson, 2003. Empire, How Britain Made the Modern World. London: Penguin (chapter 6).
2. Christopher Lee, 1999. This Sceptred Isle. London: BBC (chapters 1 to 4).

1. John Darwin, 2009. The Empire Project, The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (chapters 8 to 11).
2. Ronald Hyam, 1976. Britain's Imperial Century, 1815-1914, A Study of Empire and Expansion. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan (chapters 3 and 4).
3. Denis Judd, 1996. Empire. 2001 edition. London: Harper Collins (chapters 20, 21, 22).
4. Jan Morris, 1978. Farewell the Trumpets. An Imperial Retreat. 1998 edition. London: Faber and Faber (chapters 10 to 15).
5. Robert Rhodes James, 1977. The British Revolution, British Politics 1880-1939, Volume Two: From Asquith to Chamberlain, 1914 to 1939. London: Hamish Hamilton.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking.
Handling and analysis of sources.
Oral discussion.
Time management.
Special Arrangements N/A
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsBritish empire
Course organiserDr Sally Crumplin
Course secretaryMr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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