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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Consensus to Thatcherism: Government and Politics in Post-War Britain (online) (PGHC11377)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers a detailed engagement in British politics and government since the Second World War. It grapples with the expansion of the state, the economy, welfare, party politics and the imperatives of the democratic system.
Course description This course grapples with the working of politics, and the boundaries of government, in a mature democracy. Focusing on Britain since the Second World War, it examines a range of themes. These includes the ambitions and record of the post-war Attlee government; the reasons why successive governments failed to achieve economic stability and prosperity; the success of the Conservative party between 1951 and 1964; the apparent 'failure' of the government of Harold Wilson; the crisis of the 1970s; and the rise, record and legacy of Margaret Thatcher. Conceptually, students will assess whether there was a post-war 'consensus' between the parties on key aspects of public policy, as well as the imperatives of a democratic political system.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
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 in online forum posts and an essay a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning post-war British politics and government
  2. Demonstrate in online forum posts and an essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning, primary source materials, and conceptual discussions about post-war politics and the nature of democracy.
  3. Demonstrate in online forum posts and an essay an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course such as the use of online archives.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form online forum posts and an essay by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  5. Demonstrate in an essay and online forum posts originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy.
Reading List
Paul Addison, 'British historians and the debate over the "postwar consensus"', in Wm. Roger Louis, More Adventures with Britannia (1998), pp. 255-64.

Derek Fraser, 'The Postwar consensus : a debate not long enough?', Parliamentary Affairs (2000).

Brian Harrison, 'The rise, fall and rise of political consensus in Britain since 1940', History (1999),

Robert Crowcroft, 'The "high politics" of Labour party factionalism, 1950-55', Historical Research (2008).

Robert Crowcroft, ' 'High politics', political practice and the Labour party', in Robert Crowcroft, S.J.D. Green and Richard Whiting (eds.) The Philosophy, Politics and Religion of British Democracy: Maurice Cowling and Conservatism (2010), pp. 153-85.

Michael Oakeshott, 'The masses in representative democracy', in Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and other essays (ed. Timothy Fuller) (1991 edition), pp. 363-83.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study of the past gives students a unique understanding of the present that will enable them to succeed in a broad range of careers. The transferable skills gained from this course include:
- understanding of complex issues and how to draw valid conclusions from the past
- ability to analyse the origins and development of current political questions
- a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
- a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
- ability to question and problematize evidence; considering the relationship between evidence and interpretation
- understanding ethical dimensions of research and their relevance for human relationships today
- ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
- ability to deliver a paper or a presentation in front of peer audiences
- ability to design and execute pieces of written work and to present them suitably, as evidenced by the final assessment essay of 3,000 words
KeywordsConsensus Thatcher Government
Course organiserDr Robert Crowcroft
Tel: (0131 6)50 3764
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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