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

Undergraduate Course: British Politics in the Shadow of War, 1939 to 1945 (HIST10351)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course offers a detailed immersion in British politics and government during the Second World War. It covers a range of issues - diplomacy, war, party politics, the Churchill coalition, leadership, economic organisation and the boundaries of the British state.
Course description This course is a detailed examination of politics and government in Britain during the Second World War. This period arguably witnessed the birth of modern Britain, as the state was remodelled and the social contract rewritten under the pressures of total war and coalition politics. It has also given us many of our enduring myths: the alleged cowardice of appeasement, the heroic leadership of Winston Churchill, and a 'swing to the left' in public opinion. Students taking the course will be challenged to question these myths. A significant number of the leading figures of modern British political history (besides Churchill, men like Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax, Clement Attlee, Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison, Anthony Eden, and Stafford Cripps) were prominent in government during this period. They shared the public stage with non-political experts, such as John Maynard Keynes, William Beveridge, and Harold Laski. And the interwar ascendancy of the Conservative party was eroded, culminating in a landslide win for the Labour party in the July 1945 general election. Taken together, this represented a watershed in the history of the British state, party politics, and the relationship between government and citizen. The course asks students to consider the duties of government under conditions of national emergency; the nature of cross-party coalitions; the role of leadership in politics; and unpack the ideological changes of this period.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework, 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
Paul Addison, The Road to 1945: British Politics and the Second World War

John Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace (1989).

John Charmley, Churchill: The End of Glory (1992).

Robert Crowcroft, Attlee's War (2011),

Stephen Brooke, Labour's War (1992).

Kevin Jefferys, The Churchill coalition and wartime politics (1991).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Independent gathering of evidence; critical consideration of learning materials; sustained oral argument and debate; management of timetable and workload; and the production of work to deadlines.
KeywordsBritish Politics
Course organiserDr Robert Crowcroft
Tel: (0131 6)50 3764
Course secretaryMiss Lorna Berridge
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