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

Postgraduate Course: Approaches to Modern British Political History (PGHC11351)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
Summary'Political history' is a frequently misunderstood area of scholarship. This course encourages students to engage with the diverse ways in which historians have approached some of the key themes of British politics (for example, political parties, leadership, the role of ideas and popular politics) across a 'long' nineteenth century (c. 1780 - c. 1914). It encourages critical engagement with theoretically and methodologically significant historical works (by, for example, E. P. Thompson and Maurice Cowling) and with the range of primary sources that can be used to illuminate past politics.
Course description Students will develop a critical appreciation of the different ways in which historians have approached some of the key themes and features of British politics across a 'long' nineteenth century (c. 1780 - c. 1914). It involves the consideration of what distinguishes 'political history' as an area of inquiry and how it relates to other ways of approaching the human past. The course concentrates on theoretically and methodologically significant texts and uses a range of primary sources available to historians of politics including contemporary newspapers, periodicals and political cartoons, politicians' correspondence and personal papers, and parliamentary debates and other official publications.

Indicative teaching programme:
1. Liberal and Marxist Inheritances
2. 'The Politicians that Mattered'
3. Politics and Ideas
4. Sources: Reading Politicians' Letters
5. Parties and Elections
6. Popular Politics
7. Sources: Newspapers and Print
8. Towards a 'New Political History'?
9. Reforming the Reform Acts
10. The Material Culture of Politics
11. Conclusion and Student Presentations
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 seminar discussion and assessed work a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the analysis and understanding of past politics
  2. Demonstrate in seminar discussion, presentations and assessed written work an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship, primary source materials, and conceptual discussions concerning the history of politics in Britain between c. 1780 and c. 1914
  3. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, presentations, and an assessed essay by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate in seminar discussions, presentations, and written work 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
M. Bentley, Politics without Democracy: Perception and Preoccupation in British Government (2nd edn, 1996)

E. Biagini and A. J. Reid (ed), Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour and Party Politics in Britain (1991)

M. Chase, Chartism: A New History (2007)

S. Collini, S. Winch and J. Burrow, That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Intellectual History (1983)

M. Cowling, 1867: Disraeli, Gladstone and Revolution. The Passing of the Second Reform Bill (1967)

C. Hall, K. McClelland, J. Rendall, Defining the Victorian Nation: Class, Race, Gender and the Reform Act of 1867 (2000)

A. Hawkins, Victorian Political Culture: 'Habits of Heart and Mind' (2015)

J. Lawrence and M. Taylor (ed.), Party, State and Society: Electoral Behaviour in Britain since 1820 (1997)

J. Vernon, Politics and the People: A Study in English Political Culture, 1815-67 (1993)

D. Wahrman, Imagining the Middle Class: The Political Representation of Class in Britain, c. 1780-1840 (1995)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAppsToMBPolHist Approaches Modern British Political History
Course organiserDr Gordon Pentland
Tel: (0131 6)50 8354
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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