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Unit information: The Great Outdoors (Level I Lecture Response Unit) in 2014/15

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Unit name The Great Outdoors (Level I Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST20080
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Dudley
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Where now we are a nation of walkers and runners, cyclists and swimmers, once people feared to ‘walk abroad’ in wild places. This unit explores the emergence of nature-based leisure and recreation since industrialization, and how it has both reflected and influenced changes in British attitudes to the natural world. The unit will allow students to consider personal philosophies of body, mind and environment, and explore historical points of connection with political ideologies of landscape. In this unit the landscape itself is treated as a historical document, alongside a range of more conventional primary sources ranging from film and literature to newspapers and government reports. These materials will be employed to encourage students to engage with issues of identity, cultural values, and social and environmental change in modern British history. The sessions will progress chronologically from industrialization to the present day, taking particular activities, such as cycling, or places, like the seaside resort, as starting points for reading and discussion.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a broad understanding of the ways in which attitudes to the ‘Great Outdoors’ developed in the modern world; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise about how and why ‘natural’ environments were changed, enriched or tamed to accommodate popular desire to interact with it; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to derive benefit from, and contribute effectively to, large group discussion; (5) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 8 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-3, and 5.

Reading and References

J. Hill, Sport, Leisure and Culture in Twentieth-Century Britain (2002)

R. Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (London, 2003)

D. Matless, Landscape and Englishness (2001)

R. Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (New York, 2006)

J. Winter, Secure from Rash Assault: Sustaining the Victorian Environment (1999)