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Unit information: Teenage Kicks: Youth and Subcultures in Britain since 1918 in 2020/21

Unit name Teenage Kicks: Youth and Subcultures in Britain since 1918
Unit code HIST30097
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Charnock
Open unit status Not open




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


From flappers and Teddy Boys to football hooligans and ladettes, images of young people have often defined perceptions of British culture in the twentieth century. Teenagers were held up as symbols of Britain’s vitality and potential for the future at the same time that they were being criticised for their supposed hedonism, laziness and self-indulgence. As the contemporary media continues to emphasise the social distance between so-called ‘Baby-boomers’ and ‘Millenials’, this unit provides an opportunity to think more critically the ‘generation gap’ and how relationships between adults and young people shape British society.

This unit takes a thematic approach to consider the changing roles and perceptions of young people in Britain over the last century. The unit will explore broad changes in the lives of young people, considering how changes in education, work, politics and leisure came to reshape the nature of teenagers’ experiences. However, it will also look in more depth at a series of youth subcultures and use these as a way of thinking about how these broader changes combined to create distinct communities and cultures at specific moments in time.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Critically assess existing conceptualisations of youth culture and subcultures
  2. Differentiate between historians’ interpretations of changes in youth culture in post-war Britain.
  3. Synthesise and evaluate primary sources to build wider arguments about social change and continuity.
  4. Present their research and judgements in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level H/6

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-4]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

Carol Dyhouse, Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (London: Zed Books, 2013).

David Fowler, Youth Culture in Modern Britain, c.1920-c.1970 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London: Routledge, 1979)

Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson, Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2006).

Bill Osgerby, Youth in Britain since 1945 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998).