Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module HIST42930: Tradition, Change and Political Culture in Modern Britain

Department: History

HIST42930: Tradition, Change and Political Culture in Modern Britain

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To enable students to gain an advanced understanding of the political-cultural context in which British political institutions, ideologies and parties have operated since the mid-nineteenth century.


  • This module will require students to develop their understanding of how the course of modern British political events has been shaped by the peculiarities of its ‘political culture’. This will include critical consideration of historical interpretations such as those which emphasise:
  • the limited, incomplete impact of ‘democracy’
  • the failure of class politics to emerge in a class society
  • the frustration of social amelioration through the welfare state
  • the idea of a uniquely British ‘constitution’ and ‘civic culture’ in promoting political stability and legitimacy
  • the impact of ‘civil religion’ and of ‘traditional’, symbolic, institutions such as the monarchy
  • the roles of national identity and citizenship, and their shaping by, for example, moral panics surrounding immigration
  • the impact of colonial and world wars, militarism and popular imperialism
  • the extent to which politicians can construct political support and pursue political and/or social change by the adoption of a variety of rhetorical strategies
  • the challenge to existing explanations posed by the notion of ‘liberal governmentality’ – the belief that ‘freedom’ is itself a mode of political disciplining and governance.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of the political culture and political development of Britain since the mid-nineteenth century.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and Group Discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of modern British political culture.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
  • Assessment is by means of a 5000 word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of an aspect of modern British political culture. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
seminars 8 weekly 2 hours 16
discussion groups 2 two a term 2 hours 4
structured reading and essay preparation 280

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed in a group context.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University