Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Detailed analysis of British history in the 1950s and 1960s;
  • Familiarity with and sophisticated reading of a range of key contemporary sources and debates in post-1945 cultural, social and political history.


  • The concept of affluence enables historians to debate cultural, social, economic and political change in postwar Britain. This course interrogates these debates and by in-depth analysis of a range of contemporary documents enables students to develop an understanding and assessment of the meaning of affluence. Affluence marked a qualitative as much as quantitative shift - the advent of post-materialist values and concern with the quality of life as much as standard of living, with mass culture as much as capitalism. Did affluence represent an expansion of popular choice and desires or greater commercial control through media like advertising? Material culture centred on domestic consumer durables presented problems of choice, taste and self-control (e.g. in diet) rather than of need. Did affluence satisfy material needs, but expose moral and cultural loss - in the suburbs, of class certainties? Politically, plenty rather than shortages shifted rhetoric from production and earning to consumption and spending. Bodies like the Consumers Association will be used to appraise the extent of change and as key in constructing perceptions of affluence. As Kristin Ross has discussed in France, was affluence a compensation for imperial decline - domestic recompense or inflated material horizons, substituting for diminished imperial horizons? If so, how were the private and public spheres and gender relations redrawn? Debates about TV, for example, condensed anxieties about national identity and the impact of Americanization, cold war discourses of 'choice', the burdens of hire-purchase and concerns about popular taste and lifestyles. What new problems did affluence generate and whom did its discourse exclude? Focusing on Britons in the 1950s and 1960s, comparisons made with literature on Western Europe, Japan and the USA.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Conceptual understanding of the impact and meaning of affluence;
  • A knowledge of cultural, social, political and economic change in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/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:
  • 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;
  • tutorials - either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • 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;
  • assessment of primary source handling - students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge' research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Termly in terms 1 & 2 30 mins 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and reading 540
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 3000 words 50%
Essay 3000 words 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 35%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination - gobbet paper 3 hours unseen 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours unseen 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography), submitted in Term 1. This will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Coursework essays are formative as well as summative. They are to be submitted in two copies, of which one will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Preparation to participate in seminars and tutorials. At least one oral presentation in each term, and at least two practice gobbets in each term.

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