Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST1281: Wars and Welfare: English Society,1900-1945

Department: History

HIST1281: Wars and Welfare: English Society,1900-1945

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 100 Location Durham


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


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To understand the role of war in shaping the domestic policies and institutions of nation-states.
  • To allow students to understand the historical roots of much contemporary social practice and provision.
  • To place a strong emphasis on examining how contemporaries understood their own life and times.
  • To be achieved through 20 lectures, six seminars, one 'business' meeting and one revision seminar.


  • to examine the impact of the South African War, 1899-1902 and the two world wars on the distribution of social esteem and power in English society, and the extension of social welfare provision.
  • To place welfare provision into a broader economic, political, social and cultural context - for example, fears of physical and/or mental deterioration; or of inter-war mass unemployment.
  • To ensure that several of the seminars are organised around texts by contemporaries such as Helen Bosanquet, Tawney and Orwell; and contemporary films such as "The Battle of the Somme" and "The Stars Look Down".

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the major changes in welfare and cultural provision, by the state and by voluntary agencies, for workers, the unemployed, old age pensioners, the poor, women, children and immigrants in England since 1900.
  • Knowledge of the competing interpretations available to explain these social changes, with particular emphasis on the importance that each interpretation attaches to the impact of the wars in which England has been involved since 1900.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Identifying, defining, and understanding historical problems
  • Ability to explore the ways in which historians address historical problems going beyond the simple accumulation of knowledge
  • Ability to identify and to critique conflicting historical interpretations
  • Discussing and explaining ideas in a small-group context
  • Practicing introductory writing and research skills
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, material, aural, visual, audio-visual etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments
  • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology.

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;
  • Essays - one formative and one summative - 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; introductory lecture 1 hour 21
Seminars 7 3 in Term one, 3 in Term two; setup seminar, revision seminar 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour written examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay, 2000 words not inclusive of footnotes or bibliography 2000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

A written assignment of 1500-2000 words to be submitted in Michaelmas

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