Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)

Module HIST1341: RULING BRITANNIA, 1688-1815

Department: History


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Normally an A or B grade in A-Level History, or an acceptable equivalent (e.g. in terms of Scottish Highers or IB)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to British political, social and cultural development during the period between the Glorious Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.


  • Eighteenth-century Britain was a striking success story. Continental philosophers praised the system of parliamentary government established by the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and admired the toleration of religious diversity that accompanied it. In contrast to the previous century, when the state was destabilised by conflicts over the position of the monarch, parliament and the church, Britain's ‘happy’ constitution enjoyed massive support. The achievement and maintenance of political stability appears all the more remarkable when set in the context of dramatic social and cultural change, growing wealth and consumerism, and the impact of a series of wars fought on an unprecedented scale. Beneath the Georgian elegance and aristocratic splendour, however, there lay profound political and social tensions. While England was regarded as the model of a progressive and enlightened society, its lower orders were notorious for their xenophobia, religious prejudice and riotous behaviour. Outside the privileged world of the propertied elite, an increasingly well-informed and organised body of public opinion called for the reform of a political system which was coming to be seen as narrow and unaccountable. Even the dramatic expansion of empire brought fears of political corruption and moral decline, apparently confirmed by the disastrous war with the American colonies. At the end of the century, the outbreak of hostilities with revolutionary France and the rise of subversion at home called into question the assumptions that underpinned the old propertied order in the name of ‘the rights of man’. The troubled years between 1789 and 1815 witnessed the birth of new conservative and radical ideologies and the emergence of middle and working class identities which continued to shape British politics and culture into the present century.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an understanding of British political and social history in the long eighteenth-century.
  • an appreciation of debates between historians over key issues in this period.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Unseen Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2; revision lectures 1 hour 21
Seminars 7 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two; introductory session 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 1 - not including footnotes and bibliography 2000 words maximum 50%
essay 2 - not including footnotes and bibliography 2000 words maximum 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
unseen examination two-hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments submitted in writing or delivered orally and discussed either 1:1 or 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