Skip to main content

Unit information: Politics and Society in Contemporary Britain (Level I Lecture Response) in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Politics and Society in Contemporary Britain (Level I Lecture Response)
Unit code HIST25007
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Edwards
Open unit status Not open




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


The changes that took place in post war Britain were enormous: the development of an affluent consumer society with shopping the main leisure activity; a new youth-oriented culture; the transformation of women's lives as they moved out of the home and into the workplace; the development of a multicultural society; and an increasingly middle class and individualised electorate less identified by their background with a particular political party.

This unit aims to introduce students to the impact of these changes on the nature of political participation in Britain after the Second World War. In particular it uses social and political activism as a lens through which to study the changing ways that individuals sought to influence the political process. In this period individuals increasingly looked beyond political parties and trade unions towards social movements, single issue pressure groups and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The unit uses a range of case studies, from environmentalism, women's liberation, and activism by the LGBT community, to student rebellion, race riots and Mary Whitehouse's campaign to clean up TV.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate their understanding of the political and social history of post-war Britain.
  2. Set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  3. Analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change
  4. Select relevant examples/evidence in order to illustrate more general historical arguments
  5. Identify, explain, and critically assess existing historical interpretations,and develop their own independent arguments.

Teaching details


1 x two-hour interactive lecture

1 x one-hour workshop

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Francesca Carnevali and Julie-Marie Strange (eds), 20th Century Britain: Economic Cultural and Social Change, 2nd edn (Abingdon, 2014).

Nicholas Crowson, Matthew Hilton and James McKay (eds.), NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-State Actors in Society and Politics Since 1945 (Basingstoke, 2009).

Matthew Hilton, James McKay, Nicholas Crowson and Jean-Francois Mouhot, The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain (Oxford, 2013).

Adam Lent, British Social Movements Since 1945: Sex, Colour, Peace, and Power (Basingstoke, 2001).

Pat Thane (ed.), Unequal Britain: Equalities in Britain since 1945 (London, 2010).