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Unit information: Leisure Landscapes of Modern Britain (Level H Special Subject) in 2016/17

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Unit name Leisure Landscapes of Modern Britain (Level H Special Subject)
Unit code HIST30077
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dudley
Open unit status Not open




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


Today, sport, leisure and recreation occupy a significant place in our everyday lives, values, and identities. But recall a time when it was considered dangerous to venture ‘abroad’ (beyond one’s house or parish) on foot; when climbing a mountain was tantamount to lunacy; or when beaches were devoid of appeal and few could swim. This unit explores the remarkable transformations in how British people have experienced and imagined the world around them, in a period from late enclosure and early industrialization to the present day. Walking, hunting, cycling and other outdoor pursuits have all played an instrumental role in reshaping modern British attitudes to the natural world, and the human place within it.

The unit is structured thematically, taking an environmental history approach with place as its starting concern, and an underlying chronology that runs from the Romantic period (late 18th Century) to the present day. The unit encourages students to make connections between social change and developments in environmental thought through the 19th and 20th centuries, and issues of class, gender, race and health will be considered through the lens of leisure. The unit will work with a rich selection of primary sources, including material sourced from Bristol University Library Special Collections.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:

1) an advanced understanding of historical change in British attitudes to the environment, the body and health;

2) an advanced understanding of environmental history as an approach to interpreting and researching the past;

3) the ability to analyse a range of historical sources and use them to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments;

(4) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and to form and express an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

One 3,500 word essay (50%); one 2-hour exam (50%). Both will assess ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Susan C. Anderson & Bruce Tabb (eds), Water, Leisure and Culture: European Historical Perspectives (2002)

Peter Bailey, Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control (1978)

Alain Corbin, The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World (1994)

David Matless, ‘Moral Geographies of English Landscape’, Landscape Research 22 (1997)

Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (2003)

Melanie Tebbutt, ‘Rambling and Manly Identity in Derbyshire’s Dark Peak, 1880s – 1920s’, The Historical Journal 49 (2006)