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English and History

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  1. Royal Holloway's institution code: R72
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    • English and History BA - QV31
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English and History

BA

Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: QV31

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

The course

English and History (BA)

This exciting and challenging course offers the opportunity to combine the study of English with the study of History, allowing you to explore and reflect upon the relationships between literary texts and their historical contexts.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

You will gain original insights into the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie and study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

Studying History is exciting and rewarding; it encourages you to appreciate the human experience in other places and at other times. Exploring what people have felt, thought and done in the past expands our self-awareness. It will help to satisfy your curiosity about the past, acquire understanding of specific periods and problems, and make discoveries.

Our internationally renowned academics are developing the very latest thinking on historical problems; this cutting edge knowledge informs the curriculum and will enhance your learning experience. By studying History at one of the largest and most influential departments in the country you will be able to choose from an exceptionally broad range of subjects, enabling you to spread your studies across the medieval and modern worlds, from Ancient Rome through to modern China, from Saladin through to Margaret Thatcher.

  • Over 40 options across all areas of literature in your second and third years.
  • Study the ancient, medieval and modern worlds. Follow your passions – no compulsory modules in your third year.
  • Choice of modules that incorporate visual art and cinema
  • Opportunities for placement at, for example, The Telegraph or BBC.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a range of Old and Middle English texts. You will look at a range of Old and Middle English poetry and prose in their original language. You will learn to translate passages of Old and Middle English texts and consider the forms, styles and themes. You will examine works such as 'Beowulf', Chaucer’s 'Canterbury Tales' and the works of the Gawain-poet. You will also analyse the formal structures underlying Medieval Literature and the history and culture of the time.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of Shakespeare’s dramatic and literary craft. You will look at the historical context of the plays and the relevance of the plays today. You will examine a range of Shakespeare’s work from the Elizabethan Comedies and Histories, including 'Twelfth Night', 'Henry V', 'Hamlet'. 'King Lear' and 'The Tempest'. You will analyse key critical approaches to Shakespeare and consider the performance history of the plays.

  • This module will encourage you to look at the role of English literature in moments of social and historical crisis. You will encounter literature across different historical periods and geographies, challenging you to reflect on the complex relationship between literature, history and politics.

  • History in the Making is Royal Holloway’s first year foundation History module. This module covers the broad sweep of human history, but it is not intended to provide a straightforward narrative from the ancient to the modern world. Instead, this module seeks to introduce our first-year students to an array of different topics and themes - from the rise of Christianity to the rise of modern nation states - that they will encounter again in the Gateway, Survey, Further and Special Subjects that they take during their degree. How have historians discussed themes like Revolution or Gender? What kinds of sources have they used to do so? These, and many other thought-provoking questions, are interrogated over the two terms of this module and explored from a global, rather than a simply “Western,” perspective. In moving forwards chronologically, this module also contemplates how our very understanding of what history is and what history is for has evolved. Finally, History in the Making encourages students to think about the practice and use of history beyond the academy, about how the wider public has engaged with, manipulated and consumed the past. This ‘public history’ dimension is present in a number of lectures across both terms and all students have the opportunity to explore these issues themselves in the group poster project and presentation. Although titled “History in the Making”, this module might easily have been called “Historians in the Making”, providing our students with the skills, methods and critical approach to the past that prove essential to successfully completing a university History degree.

Year 2
  • All modules are optional
Year 3
  • All modules are optional

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • This sweeping module introduces students to the dramatic story of the ancient world, from the classical Greeks and Romans to the rise of Christianity and Islam. That story begins with Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey, and the emergence of the Greek city states led by the military might of Sparta and the democratic genius of Athens. The Greeks drove back the Persian empire to the east, but as the city states declined, they fell under the dominion of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. We follow Alexander’s conquests to the borders of India and back, yet his empire died with him while further west Rome was rising. The Roman Republic, with its unique constitution and marching legions, dominated the Mediterranean world only to destroy itself through ambition and civil war, until power fell into the hands of one man: Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Over the next 400 years the Roman empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to the Sahara and east to the Euphrates. Within that empire a new faith emerged, venerating Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and gathered strength until the emperor Constantine converted and Christianity became the favoured imperial religion. By this time, however, the empire was First Year Modules History Department - Royal Holloway, University of London 9 facing ever greater challenges. Goths and Franks swept across western Europe, their conquests immortalised by Edward Gibbon as the “Decline and Fall of Rome”. In the east Roman power survived as the Byzantine empire centred on Constantinople. While in Arabia, the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed inspired the forces of Islam, which swept forth to redraw the map of the ancient world. Throughout this wide-ranging module, we explore the values these societies expressed in their own words (read in translation), debate the latest scholarship, and assess the ancient legacies that shaped our modern age.

  • This module investigates the origins of our ideas about human rights and duties, revolution and democracy, consent and liberty. Key original texts are studied, ranging from Plato and Aristotle in the ancient world to Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Locke and the Enlightenment in the transition from the early modern to the modern world. The module takes a wide view of the boundaries of ‘European Political Thought’, also introducing several political thinkers from the Islamic world like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya. Like their Christian counterparts elsewhere, their work marked a close engagement with Greek philosophy, and explored the question of what the presence of an almighty creator God meant for the conduct of human politics. This module always keeps an eye on what the close and careful reading of classical texts has to offer for our understanding of politics in the present. Working with primary sources, rather than the learning of factual details, stands at the centre of both how the module is taught and how it is assessed.

  • The early modern period was an age of change. It has been seen by many as the beginning of modernity, for it witnessed the consolidation of both national monarchies and the central state, the split of Christianity with the emergence of the Reformation, the spread of Islam to the Balkans, European expansion into the ‘new world’, the introduction of print, and significant changes in patterns of consumption. This module assesses the impact that these processes had on the lives of ordinary early modern Europeans and on their ways of making sense of the changes in the world around them. For example, we examine how the process of state-building brought about a new culture of discipline and self-restraint in everyday life; how people’s attitudes to the sacred and standards of morality changed with the spread of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. We ask whether the introduction of print revolutionised ordinary people’s access to information and knowledge, and whether the encounter with Native Americans stimulated the development of a separate European identity, perceived as superior. This module also addresses continuities and changes in the domestic and private spheres of individuals’ lives -- gender relations, patterns of family life, ideas about childhood and intimacy, attitudes to health and hygiene, birth and death. Throughout the emphasis is on the experience of ordinary people.

  • From the Enlightenment to the collapse of Communism, Europeans have struggled to make sense of and shape a continent in the grip of profound changes. Revolution, industrialisation and urbanisation transformed the face of politics and societies and spawned a series of new ideologies that continue to shape our world today. This module surveys a range of major events and dynamics from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first centuries, including the French Revolution, the emergence of the nation state, the decline of monarchy, the rise of mass politics, the emergence of the working classes and the middle classes, the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, the Second World War and the Cold War. In studying specific events and developments students are also introduced to more general concepts like revolution, constitutionalism, liberalism, nationalism, industrialisation, urbanisation, socialism, communism, fascism, parliamentary democracy and the welfare state. Exposure to different historical methods and conflicting interpretations helps students to hone their own analytical skills. The emphasis throughout the module is on recovering the experiences of Europeans across more than two turbulent centuries when the very shape of the modern world was fiercely contested.

  • The module introduces students to the history of the non-Western world over the past one hundred years or so, a period that resulted in - as some historians have suggested - the decline of the West and the rise of the Rest in political terms. In regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, the twentieth century was hugely significant, witnessing the downfall of empires and long-held ideologies, on the one hand, and, on the other, the advent of revolutionary struggles and movements that created new nation-states. Its legacies continue to affect and shape the world on a regional and global level. The lens through which this exploration takes place is provided by the lives and careers of some of the most influential non-Western political leaders, including advocate of non-violent resistance MK Gandhi, architect of Communist China Mao Zedong, South African anti-apartheid politician Nelson Mandela, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, and Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Whether nationalists, monarchs, communists, dictators, or inspired by religious belief, their individual stories provide students with the starting point for exploring - both thematically and comparatively - key developments that have shaped their respective countries and the world in which we live today.

  • The terms ‘Middle Ages’ and ‘Medieval’ are often used to evoke a dark and bigoted world, wracked by war, pestilence and superstition and oppressed by tyrannical kings and scheming priests. The image is not entirely false as all those things certainly did happen in the Middle Ages. But then again, they also occurred in most other periods of human history, including the twentieth century. Those aspects aside, the period from c.400 to c.1500 saw Western Europe transform itself from the poorer part of the retreating Roman empire to a wealthy, sophisticated and dynamic society that was starting to explore the world far beyond its borders. This module explores some of the changes and developments that took place along the way and answers some of the questions that you may always have wanted to ask: What happened after the Roman empire fell? What was ‘feudalism’? How were castles and Gothic cathedrals built? Why did the Pope become so powerful? What were the Crusades? Why did the Hundred Years’ War go on for so long? How did Europe survive after losing as much as half its population in the Black Death? And does this remote era have any relevance whatsoever to the modern world?

Year 2
  • Develop your skills in the close reading and critical analysis of Middle English poetry, focusing on set passages from three important fourteenth century texts: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The module invites you to think about how poets understood the status of Middle English as a literary language, in comparison with Latin and French.

  • The Lord of the Rings regularly shows up in lists of 'The Best Books of All Time', and Tolkien continues to inspire interest and imitation for all kinds of reasons. You will examine Tolkien’s work from the perspective of his engagement with Old English poetry, a subject which constituted an important part of his scholarly activity. You will look at his three main Old English poems (in the original and in translation) and Tolkien’s two most popular works of fiction, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

  • In this module you will explore a major literary genre which attracted all the great poets of late medieval England: the dream vision. It considers the use of the genre in the works of Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain-poet, as well as examining the visions in mystical writing. These authors’ treatments of the genre repeatedly ask us to reflect on the relationship of literature to experience, poetic authority and identity, and the development of English as a literary language.

  • Romance was one of the most popular genres of secular literature in late medieval England. You will begin by looking at the Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes, before going on to consider works by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Sir Thomas Malory. You will examine romances set in the mythical British past, in the classical cities of Troy, Thebes and Athens, and in the more recognisable landscapes of medieval England and France. Attention will be paid throughout this module to the often inventive and unpredictable ways in which medieval romance works to articulate specific historical and cultural anxieties.

  • An introduction to the literature of the English Renaissance, beginning in the 1590s with erotic narrative poems by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and concluding with John Milton's drama, Samson Agonistes, first published in 1671. Marlowe and Thomas Middleton represent the extraordinarily rich drama of the period, while John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the most famous of the so-called metaphysical poets. A feature of the module is the attention given to situating these works in their historical and cultural contexts.

  • This module explores in-depth three supreme examples of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and historical drama: Richard III (1592-3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-6), and Macbeth (1606).

  • The texts covered in this module span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares. Non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study, including news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, and popular ballads.

  • Charting a progression from Galenic humoral theory to Cartesian dualism, you will consider the representation and significance of corporeality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Reading Renaissance plays and poetry alongside anatomical textbooks, manuals of health, erotica, and philosophical essays, the module seeks to contextualise the period's literary treatment of the body.

  • This module offers the opportunity to study one very important and characteristic aspect of Milton’s Paradise Lost: his depiction of Eden, the paradise that was lost at the fall. Throughout his account of Paradise, Milton works to make the loss of Paradise poignant by lavishing on it all his evocative powers as a poet. You will spend at least three sessions looking at Milton's epic, covering aspects such as Edenic sex and marriage, Eden’s fauna and flora, and work in Eden. Throughout the module images of Paradise will be given attention, starting with Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delight'. Alongside artworks, you will look at some of the Bible scholarship which tried to locate the site of Paradise, and deduce its fate.

  • An introduction to English literature from the Norman Conquest to the birth of Chaucer. This period has been described both as a period of political crisis and also as a period of cultural renaissance. It saw the conquest and colonization of England, the rise of new forms of scholarship and spirituality, and, according to some accounts, the development of new ways of thinking about national and individual identity

  • Between the English Revolution and the French Revolution, British literature was pulled by opposing cultural forces and experienced an extraordinary degree of experimentation. The eighteenth century is sometimes called The Age of Reason, but it is also called The Age of Sensibility. It was dominated by male writers, but also facilitated the rise of the woman novelist and the emergence of coteries of intellectual women. It continued to be an essentially rural nation, but London grew to be the biggest city in the world and industrialisation was beginning to herd workers into towns. This module explores some of the tensions and oppositions which were played out in the literature of this period.

  • Explore the Victorian concept of the 'sensational' across a range of novels dating from the height of the sensation period in the 1850s and 60s. Together, we will examine some of the magazines in which these novels were originally serialized. Issues such as the role of public spectacle, the first detectives, advertising, domestic crime and the demonic woman will be explored in relation to the cultural and social context of this novelistic genre.

  • This module is framed by the personal: it begins with Queen Victoria’s private diaries of her happiest days in Scotland, and ends just beyond the Victorian period, with one troubled man’s intensely-felt account of his Victorian childhood. You will look at examples of the novelistic form, including sensation, Romantic, domestic realist and sentimental novels. Some of the works you will study are well-known and truly canonical, while others will be excitingly unfamiliar; all, however, will contribute to a sense of the variety and contradictions inherent in being Victorian.

  • This module will introduce you to a broad range of literatures from the period 1780 to 1830. The module aims to problematise and scrutinise the idea of Romanticism as a homogenous literary movement and to raise awareness of the range of competing literary identities present in the period.

  • This module, which is designed to enable non-creative writing students to try a creative writing module, will give you the opportunity to work through some issues associated with short-story and/or novel writing. Classes will alternate seminar discussions of aspects of the craft of writing with workshops in which you will interact critically and creatively with others' work.

  • Examine a range of novels by gay and lesbian writers in Britain and Ireland which have emerged in the wake of the AIDS catastrophe and queer theory. You will focus on interesting though rather peculiar trends in the post-queer novel: queer historical and biographical fictions, and explore the reasons behind the dominance of these approaches in recent gay and lesbian literature.

  • With the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as the first woman Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom in 2009, poetry by women became publicly validated as never before. Setting fresh horizons for women’s poetry, Duffy joined Gillian Clarke who has served as National Poet of Wales since 2008; Liz Lochhead was appointed Scots Makar in 2011, and Paula Meehan was appointed in 2013 to the Ireland Chair of Poetry. By careful reading of two collections by each poet, you will assess how each poet has moved from a position of rebellion, liminality or minority into the very heart of the cultural institution.

  • Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.

  • Explore British drama staged during the first half of the twentieth century against a backdrop of two world wars. The plays studied place the values of their age under scrutiny, to raise questions about social justice, spiritual choices, class and gender inequalities. Theatrical genres were under just as much pressure as the cultural values they sought to convey; the ten plays studies during the course reflect a range of evolving genres, from the well-made play, the play of ideas, social comedy, to poetic drama.

  • An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.

  • This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.

  • Providing an introduction to the study of literary modernism, a period of intense experimentation in diverse sets of cultural forms.  This module deals with issues such as modernist aesthetics; genre; gender and sexuality; the fragment; time and narration; stream-of-consciousness; history, politics and colonialism; technology, and the status of language and the real.

  • ‘We seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.’ (Sir John Seeley, The Expansion of England, 1883). Despite Seeley’s assertion of accidental conquest, at its zenith the British empire decidedly controlled over a quarter of the world’s global real estate, and a fifth of the world’s population. The economic, cultural and global impact of British colonialism is still very much apparent today - from contested borders and inter-state disputes, through languages and cultures, to the inequities in wealth and trade that exist between the prosperous ‘North’ and the underdeveloped ‘South’. Why, then, was imperial expansion so vehemently defended by its protagonists in the nineteenth century? And what made colonial conquest, colonisation, and economic exploitation of non-European spaces feasible on such a global scale and for so long? These are the ‘big questions’ that underpin this module. Using documentary sources and specialist texts and articles, we investigate various aspects of British colonial rule from the perspective of its practitioners and from that of their colonial ‘subjects’. The intention is to understand European imperialism on its own terms, to interrogate the cultural and conceptual discourses that underpinned its existence, and to reflect upon the many ways in which the history of European empire has shaped the modern world in which we live today.

  • The Roman Republic occupies a special place in the history of Western civilisation. From humble beginnings beside the river Tiber, the Romans expanded to dominate the classical world. Their armies defeated Carthage and the successors of Alexander the Great, and brought all the surrounding peoples under Roman rule. Yet the triumph of the Republic was also its tragedy. Political and socio-economic crisis plunged Rome into a descending spiral of civil war as rival warlords struggled for supremacy, until the Republican constitution collapsed and was replaced by the autocratic Roman empire. In this module, we explore the history of the Republic from the foundation of Rome to the murder of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC. Students examine the social and political pressures that drove Rome to conquer her Mediterranean empire and the consequences of that expansion for the Romans and for the peoples they conquered. The major literary sources are discussed in translation, together with the evidence of archaeology and material culture which helps us to bring the ancient Romans to life.

  • The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1000-1250
  • Between 1914 and 1947, Europe was in the grip of continent in what the French leader Charles de Gaulle termed a ‘Second Thirty Years War’. The First World War swept away much of the old order, triggering the collapse of the great continental empires and giving birth to a series of parliamentary regimes unstable new nation states. The October Revolution launched a radical new project that redefined the political landscape of the continent and fuelled the emergence of the radical Right. Beset by economic crises and political radicalisation liberalism and parliamentary democracy were soon in full retreat as a series of brutal regimes took power. These new states used repression but also welfare in order to construct new hierarchies of insiders and outsiders as European populations were drawn into new methods of surveillance and persecution. The module examines Italian fascism; Nazism; Stalinism; the civil war and the origins of the Franco regime in Spain; and the Holocaust in a wider continental framework context that highlights the shared experience of Europeans from Moscow to Madrid and from Brussels to Berlin. In the first half of the twentieth century, Europe was the dark continent.

  • The Tudors represent a compelling family drama of powerful men and women, passion and betrayal, jealous rivalries and resentments played out over three generations. The Tudor period is one of the most familiar and popular periods of British history, with the charismatic Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I featuring in countless films, TV programmes, and books. Yet beyond being good ‘box office’, the Tudors matter. This was a hugely formative period, which saw dramatic change, innovation, and exploration. During the sixteenth century, institutions were created, laws passed, and precedents set that remain at the heart of the English polity today. The Tudor period saw the beginnings of the modern state, the development of national bureaucracy and administration, the establishment of the Church of England, and the genesis of a belief in national sovereignty. Drawing on the most recent historiography, this module reconsiders familiar assessments of these most infamous of monarchs. In recent years, Henry VII has emerged less as a dour man than a tenacious and farsighted survivor who laid the foundations for the achievements of his son and grandchildren. Edward VI is now considered less a weak and sickly boy manipulated by powerful men, but a young man on the threshold of power. Mary should be considered a political pioneer, the first woman to wear the crown of England and who showed that women could rule with all the power of kings. Elizabeth was less an unimpeachable ‘Good Queen Bess’ than a reckless monarch whose refusal to marry and name a successor ultimately led to the demise of the Tudor dynasty and the accession of a Scottish king to the English throne.

  • This module studies the birth of a new European order. It runs from the slow disintegration and eventual collapse of the Roman empire in the West to the beginnings of a new European empire under the Carolingians. The Germanic ‘barbarians’ who took over former Roman provinces and areas under Roman influence in what we now call Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain evolved between them a collection of states and a range of international relations that would shape the whole of European politics and society for centuries to come. We take a mixture of thematic and narrative approaches to this vast topic, using primary sources in translation throughout, and explore the nature of the new states, their ruling elites, their religion and culture, and their relations (friendly and hostile) with the wider world of the old Byzantine empire and the new empire of the Islamic Caliphate.

  • The Ottoman Empire was the largest and longest-surviving Muslim empire in history. This module explores the empire at its height, when it reached Croatia and Algeria in the west, the Persian Gulf in the east, Ukraine in the north and Yemen in the south, while being centred in the Middle East and Balkans. Covering the period from the conquest of Constantinople to the accession of the modernising Sultan Selim III, the module traces dramatic changes in the both the internal dynamics of the empire and its position in the world, exploring topics including the political structure of the empire, the role of Islam and religious conversion, the place of the large non-Muslim population, Ottoman literature and culture, and the empire’s relations with Christian powers in Europe. Connecting Europe with Asia and Africa, the Ottoman Empire played a critical role in the emergence of the modern world, and the module engages with key questions in early modern global history, including the development of the concept of Europe and the shift of economic and political power from east to west.

  • This module will examine superpower relations during the Cold War, including the collapse of the USSR and the period of uncertainty which followed. It takes a global comparative perspective in telling the history of international relations in the period 1945-91, and the development of a ‘New World Order’ to 1998.  Key themes will include nuclear tensions and the space race, and the proxy-wars waged in China, Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle-East and elsewhere in an era of ‘peace that is no peace’, as George Orwell predicted in August 1945.

  • The traditional historiography of western political thought has a tendency to jump from the Ancient Greeks to Augustine to Machiavelli, ignoring the wealth of ideas and theories to be found in between. This module seeks to supplement, and even challenge, this standard canon by paying attention to the ‘lesser’ thinkers that helped to shape the intellectual dismodule of the medieval and early modern periods. Beginning with Cicero, this module proceeds chronologically to explore the development of central debates about the role and nature of authority in society.

  • The Italian Renaissance is conventionally portrayed as a period of cultural and artistic renewal, economic prosperity and advanced political forms (republican governments). This module will verify the validity of this picture by considering the everyday experience of the men and women who inhabited the cities of Northern and Central Italy between 1350 and 1650 - political participation, class conflict, education, ways of inhabiting, material culture, crime and violence, gender relationships and sexual deviancy, devotion and the use of magic.

  • Who were the Victorians? What did they believe in? How far were notions of vice and virtue in conflict in the Victorian period? And how are the Victorian years still relevant to us today? This module offers an overview of the dramatic political, gender, cultural and social contours of life in the British Isles during the Victorian period, so often still seen as the height of British progress and self-confidence. The module is framed between the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne in 1837 - aged just eighteen – and her death in 1901. Topics studied along the way include the role and image of the monarchy; the decline of the aristocracy; the lives of the urban and industrial working classes; race and Black lives; politics in the age of Gladstone and Disraeli; feminism and the Victorian women’s movement; marriage, morality and Victorian sexuality; democracy, citizenship and the demand for the vote from various voices; religion, science and doubt; Victorian art and visual culture; and famine, loyalism and nationalism in Victorian Ireland. This is a module that is essential for anyone wishing to understand not just the Victorians, but the nature of the world they bequeathed, and leaves students wanting to study modern British history in greater depth during their final year of study.

  • This module offers an overview of US history since 1900. It examines the social, cultural, economic and political contours of that history, incorporating topics such as westward expansion, industrialisation and urbanisation, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, domestic developments in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, developments in the 1970s and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. The module examines the domestic and foreign policy concerns of the Clinton administration. Particular attention is devoted to Clinton’s efforts to reshape his party and his administration’s efforts to secure peace in Northern Ireland and Israel. The module also assesses the varied ways in which the War on Terror reshaped America’s foreign policy and how foreign policy concerns impacted the subsequent election. It concludes with an examination of President Obama’s successful campaign and evaluates the role that racial and religious prejudice played in his election. Particular attention is given to the shaping experiences of race, ethnicity, gender and class in the American experience.

  • The module explores perceptions of the holy man in different religions and traditions through the centuries, in the wider historical and cultural context. Through a variety of visual sources such as icons, reliquaries and other forms of sacred art, and textual sources (in translation), including scriptural, theological, philosophical, hagiographical, and hymnographical texts, students familiarise themselves with important aspects of sanctity and spirituality, assessing the place and role of holy men and women in society, both in East and West. Covering Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, the module examines the ideals, practices and experiences of hermits and coenobetic monks, stylites and holy fools, martyrs and married saints, among other groups, looking at ways in which ‘holiness’ and ‘sacred space’ can be a significant aspect of historical research in our attempt to understand a period, a society and a culture.

  • This module sketches the emergence of modern India (and its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. It includes such iconic historical events as the Great Mutiny-Uprising of 1857, the Amritsar massacre, Gandhi’s Salt March, the Partition of India into Pakistan and India, and the recent slide of the region into the grip of competing religious fundamentalisms. Behind these events stand bigger questions that have also affected other parts of the so-called ‘Third World’: how has colonialism changed local social and political structures and to what extent can it be blamed for problems in the present? To what extent have the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan societies of the South managed to fit in modern identity politics? To what extent is ‘development’ an achievable or even valid political goal in this region? This module seeks to give students a sound factual and conceptual framework that – alongside being better informed about one of the hot topics of today – facilitate subsequent learning in Further and Special Subject modules with a South Asian flavour.

  • For almost half a millennium, the Roman empire ruled over the ancient Mediterranean world. This module surveys the golden years of imperial Rome, from the achievement of sole rule by the first emperor Augustus (31 BC - AD 14) to the murder of Commodus (the white-clad emperor from Gladiator) in AD 192. At its peak, Rome’s empire spanned from Hadrian’s Wall in Britain south to North Africa and east to Syria, enclosing the Mediterranean Sea within a single dominion. We analyse the political, social and cultural developments under the emperors of the first and second centuries AD, and reassess their achievements and legacies: Claudius’ invasion of Britain, Nero’s cultured tyranny, the terrible efficiency of Domitian, Trajan the conqueror, and the philosophical Marcus Aurelius. We likewise explore fundamental themes that shaped the wider empire, including imperial frontier policy and administration, the process of Romanisation, and the nature of Roman religion. The evidence of art and architecture is examined, particularly the monuments from Rome herself and the wealth of material preserved in the buried town of Pompeii, alongside the major literary sources all readily available in English translation.

  • The approach of this module is firmly comparative, and the geographical scope is wide: from the British Isles to the Crusader States. The period c.1000–1250 in Europe saw many key developments, including: the establishment of universities and of the Inquisition; the persecution of heretics, religious minorities and of perceived sexual deviants; and the growth of vernacular literature.

  • Late medieval Christian Europe was a world of contrasts. Plague was endemic, but those lucky enough to survive enjoyed improving standards of living that rested in many parts of Europe on a flourishing economic life. This naturally affected life in cities, opening up opportunities for many.

  • The accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603 saw the union of the crowns and the establishment of the Stuart dynasty in England. During the century that followed, Britain’s political and constitutional foundations were forged. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. The demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, left the monarchy changed forever. This module explores a century that would redefine the country and remains critical for understanding the nation today.

  • Beginning with a brief overview of Iberia, Africa and the Americas in the late fifteenth century, this module explores how subsequent encounters between societies on both sides of the Atlantic created the complex world of colonial Latin America. This module examines the social, cultural, economic, political and religious development of Latin America from the first encounters to 1650 and emphasises the transatlantic connections between Spain, Portugal, West Africa and the Americas that resulted in the dynamic movement of people and ideas within and across the broader Iberian world. Themes covered include colonial encounters and issues of translation, religious change and local religiosity, Iberian and indigenous contributions to scientific knowledge, colonial hierarchies and inequalities, exploitation and enslavement, and strategies of resistance. Students gain not only a basic understanding of social transformations in early colonial Latin America, but also approaches to critically analysing the impact of hierarchies of gender, race and status on individuals living in colonial society

  • Beginning in the years shortly before the Fourth Crusade captured and sacked Constantinople in April 1204, this module traces the slow decline and fall of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium). It will examine how the Byzantines regrouped in the successor state of Nicaea and slowly recovered from the disaster of 1204 and ends with the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453 and the fall of last Byzantine outpost of Mistra seven years later.

  • Europe has changed more since 1945 than during any other time in history. From a rubble-strewn, war-torn continent to one of the richest, most privileged parts of the world, the transformation has been remarkable. Yet this process was neither inevitable, nor without risks and tensions. This module explores the major political developments of the second half of the twentieth century, including: the consequences of the end of the Second World War; the occupation of Germany, denazification, and the Nuremberg Trials; the postwar tensions between the superpowers which led to the onset and course of the Cold War in Europe; the communist takeover of Eastern Europe; the ‘thirty glorious years’ of economic growth, social democracy and integration in the EEC in Western Europe; decolonisation and its consequences for the European powers; the collapse of the dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece; the oil crises, the end of the ‘postwar boom’, and the rise of neoliberalism; the fall of communism and the demise of the Soviet Union; and the major postCold War events such as German unification and the wars in Yugoslavia.

  • This module explores one of the most vibrant centuries in British history. Frequently seen as an age of liberty, luxury, elegance and excess it examines the period from the accession of the Hanoverian George I to the death of George IV at the end of the ‘Regency’ period. Yet beneath this commercially successful and fashionably polite society lay fears of riot and disorder, debt, poverty and rising crime rates. Two striking results of this were campaigns for greater public decency and the expansion of laws imposing the death sentence for hundreds of criminal offences. The module asks: to what extent did the Georgian era witness the birth of modernity, consumer society, commercialised leisure and freedom of the press? Were the British a polite and commercial people, or an ungovernable rabble? How ‘bloody’ was the penal code in a period when public sentiment began to turn against hanging? In answering these and other questions, students also make use of digitised primary sources such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online and The Old Bailey Online.

  • The period from the French Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century witnessed extraordinary transformations in just about every area of Europeans’ lives. New ideas of democracy, nationalism, socialism and women’s rights animated successive generations of radicals and produced major revolutions such as those that shook the continent in 1848. The rapid rise of industrialisation and new technologies like the railway changed the face of European cities like Paris and Vienna, forced societies to confront problems like poverty and epidemic disease, and even altered basic conceptions of time and space. Artistic movements like romanticism and realism jostled with an emergent mass culture founded on widespread literacy, cheap books and daily newspapers. This module addresses these and other dimensions of the social and cultural history of Europe in order to ask both what drove the major changes of the nineteenth century and, just as importantly, how people responded to and made sense of them.

  • This module explores the transformation from empire to nation state in the Near and Middle East, from Greece to Iran, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We study the ambitious attempts at modernisation undertaken by Middle Eastern governments, as the region came under intense pressure from western colonial powers focusing on the Ottoman Empire. We then explore the impact of the First World War, which shattered the region’s political order, and look at the different types of nation-state that emerged in its aftermath: colonial states like French-ruled Syria and Lebanon, independent monarchies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the aggressively secular Republic of Turkey. The key historical process in this period was the eclipse of old religious and imperial forms of identity by new national identities. The rise of nationalism manifested in dynamic and creative political and cultural reform, but also in horrific acts of violence, including the Armenian genocide. The module also explores the ways in which Middle Easterners reconciled Islam with modernity, and the integration of the region into the global capitalist economy. Overhanging all of the topics we study is the vexed historiographical question of whether the transition to modernity necessarily meant westernisation.

  • This module explores American economic hegemony from the Atlantic Charter to the end of the Great Recession. Topics in America’s long run ‘rise and fall’ include the Marshall Plan; the ‘Golden Age’ of western economic growth; the rise of welfare spending and economic planning; the fall of the Keynesian consensus; stagflation and the rise of the New Right; the rise of the less-developed economies; the end of the Soviet system; and the collapse of U.S. and UK banking.

  • This module seeks to investigate politics, society and culture in modern Britain during the sixty-year period encompassed between the outbreak of World War One in 1914 and Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1973. Topics include the impact of two world wars upon British cultural life and gender roles, the decline of Liberalism and rise of Labour, the growth of leisure and the mass media, post-war immigration, and the end of the British empire.

  • This module surveys the history of the United States of America from its origins as an independent nation to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. During this formative period the United States experienced rapid and dramatic demographic, territorial, and economic changes, developing from a young nation threatened by European and Native American enemies to a continental power. In charting this period of staggering growth, we explore not only the establishment of political institutions and practices, but how the growing sectional crisis over slavery led to a bloody civil war (1861-1865) that threatened to tear asunder the fledgling American republic. In telling this story, the module interrogates five core themes: Revolution, Democracy, Westward Expansion, Sections and Sectionalism, and the Crisis of the Union. These themes incorporate multiple topics, including (but by no means limited to) Native Americans, race and slavery, reform movements (including women’s rights), and the growth of American capitalism.

  • The Later Roman Empire module spans the four centuries that marked the end of classical antiquity and the rise of the early medieval world. The module opens with the transformation of the Roman empire under Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337), and with the conversion of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, in AD 312. Students explore the fundamental political, social and religious developments of the fourth century, which saw the emergence of a Christian Roman empire and the migration of the Goths and Huns towards the imperial frontier. We then compare the contrasting fortunes of the western and eastern regions of the empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the west imperial power collapsed under the waves of barbarian invasions, to be succeeded by the Germanic kingdoms of the Goths and Franks and by the rising prestige of the Roman papacy. Yet in the east the empire survived and reached a new peak during the attempted reconquest of the emperor Justinian (527-565), before triumphing in the last great conflict between the Roman and Persian empires with which this module concludes. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through an impressive combination of literary sources (read in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • By the middle of the seventh century, the very existence of the Byzantium (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was in question. It had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital city of Constantinople was now under direct threat. Yet the state not only weathered this period of crisis but revived and flourished so that by 1050, it was once more a major power in the region, stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why it survived, how it reversed the long series of defeats and the profound changes that took place in its military organisation, society, religious life, art and culture. It also examines how one key to its success was the way in which it interacted with the world around it, particularly with the Islamic caliphate, western Europe and the Slavonic world. Although the Byzantines frequently fought their neighbours, they preferred where possible to influence them through diplomacy and conversion. Then in the later eleventh century, new enemies appeared on the borders and Byzantium began to contract once more, a series of events that was to provide the background for the later launch of the First Crusade in 1095.

  • In this period London grew from a town of 50,000 inhabitants to a capital city of some 200,000. The Reformation not only swept away ‘superstitious’ beliefs, but destroyed much of the fabric and topography of the medieval City - this module will consider how Londoners coped with these changes. How were Londoners fed and watered? How were crafts organised? How was the City governed?

  • Between 1553 and 1603, England faced the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth. Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures. Should Mary be considered a political pioneer and England’s most overlooked monarch? Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? This module urges students to reassess the traditional image of the Tudor monarchy.

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well.

  • ‘Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin’, noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker’s perceptive comments strike at the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasise the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King’s 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them, as well as addressing the central controversies and debates surrounding King’s movement leadership. The module covers topics including: desegregation of schools, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Albany and Birmingham campaigns, the March on Washington, the Sit-in Movement and tensions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

  • From ‘Downton Abbey’ to ‘Call the Midwife’, we might think we know the history of women’s lives in twentiethcentury Britain. Take the 1920s: the slender flapper, cigarette-holder in hand and off to cocktails or a night at the flicks, epitomised the surface glamour of modernity. Possessed of an office job and a vote, she also boasted a swimsuit, sex appeal, and a voguish knowledge of Freud. But was her world really one without limits? This module explores the experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, political, economic and cultural transformation. We determine the constraints on, and advantages gained by, women in relation to education and paid work, citizenship and feminism, war and peace, migration and immigration, and sexuality and family life, among other themes. We look at the places and spaces that shaped women’s experiences, from the home to the workplace and beyond, as well as tracing the ways that family, community and the media all moulded ideas of what it was to be ‘feminine’. Along with gender roles and expectations, we consider how social class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality and location all played their parts in shaping women’s experiences and their hopes for their futures. Drawing on wide-ranging historical scholarship, as well as primary sources including film, autobiography, photography and oral history, we plot the changes in British women’s lives and ask what continuities there are between women’s lives today and the experiences of their mothers and grandmothers.

  • The module examines the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions. The spread of literacy, the rise of popular culture, and mass politics all contrived to change the nature and the values of Russian society. In the absence of any established system of political freedom until the 1905 Revolution, Russian literature was a barometer of popular sentiment and a forum in which the great moral and political issues of the day were debated. The tension between reformism and revolution dominated the period. For many, the obduracy of the autocracy precluded the possibility of seeking a gradual reform of the state. Others struggled to reform the Empire whilst staving off violent revolution. The 1905 Revolution was a seminal moment in Russian history in this period. It heralded the explosion of mass movements onto the political stage confirmed for many observers their worst fears of the anarchy and violence that would accompany social revolution. The emphasis throughout is on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

  • In the first five decades of the twentieth century, the lands of East Central Europe experienced a violent transformation, perhaps unlike any other the world had ever seen. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed during the war decade of 1912-1923, giving way to fragile nation-states marred by a multitude of problems throughout the interwar period. This module dissects the causes of imperial collapse and highlights its deep-felt consequences for the successor states of Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It explains how multi-ethnic coexistence gave way to conflict, how democracy waltzed with authoritarianism and how eventually these former borderlands turned into the bloodlands of the Second World War. Using a wide range of sources, (including texts, images, comics, and music), the module examines in turn: multiethnic coexistence in the imperial lands; the unmixing of people during the First World War; majorities and minorities in the interwar period; the introduction of liberal democracy and the growing appeal of fascism, communism and authoritarianism; and, finally, the mass atrocities committed by erstwhile neighbours during the Second World War. Throughout this tumultuous period, East Central Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, but came to be nostalgically remembered as a mosaic of ethnicities. The premise of this module is therefore simple: we cannot understand the dynamics of the modern world without understanding the story of East Central Europe in the early twentieth century.

  • This module explores the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. By the mid-18th century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought, and ongoing debates over progress and modernity interacted with the democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. This in turn fuelled 20th-century debates over liberalism and socialism, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation, and the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

  • This course will review the modern literature on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression Slump for Britain and America during the 1920s and 1930s. Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply in to depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery.

  • This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present day. It deals with the development of the concept, with a particular focus on the man who coined the term ‘genocide’, the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and the debates in the United Nations which led to the formulation and acceptance of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948. We consider too the merits of different approaches to studying genocide, including political science and anthropology as well as history. The module then proceeds by examining the following case studies: the colonisation of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. In each case, we do not simply say whether or not genocide occurred but try to understand genocide in the context of the unfolding of a dynamic of violence, usually in the context of war and massive social crisis. We then analyse different explanations for genocide, including issues of nation-building and the ‘world system’ of competing states, race-theory, gender, and social psychological explanations of aggression. The module concludes by examining the promises and problems of genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention.

  • Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Indeed, terrorism as a specific form of political violence has been employed across a variety of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. The module aims to examine the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society throughout this period. The module adopts a comparative thematic approach examining various waves and manifestations of terrorism including: anarchist terror in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; anti-colonial ‘terror’ used during the anti-colonial wars of independence in the post-Second World War period; the pervasive left-wing ‘Red Terror’ of the 1970s; terrorism employed by ethno-nationalist and separatist groups; ‘religious’ terrorism in various traditions; the resurgence of far-right terrorism; and finally the oft-overlooked phenomenon of state terrorism. This comparative approach employs various case studies to examine ubiquitous themes including power, identity, politics, society, the state and religion, all vis-à-vis terrorism, and deploys a diverse range of primary source material (both textual and audio-visual) to interrogate these themes.

  • Sharīa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratisation in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, by introducing them to the intellectual structure of the law and then tracing how sharīʿa has been manifested in a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the twenty-first century, including the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and modern Britain. The module explores various areas of law, including criminal law, constitutional law, property and trusts, and slavery, but it has a particular focus on family law – marriage, divorce and child-rearing – and its impact on gender in Muslim societies. The module uses these case studies to address the fundamental question of the relationship between sharīʿa law and political power: is sharīʿa law a constraint on government, or a tool government can use? How can a Muslim government adhering to sharīʿa law legislate? Can sharīʿa law be reconciled with democratic government? The module is accessible to all: previous knowledge of Islamic or Middle Eastern history is not required.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, ideas and products across the Atlantic basin during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Through the assigned readings and discussions, we analyse the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Themes covered include imperial competition, migration, changing understandings of community and space because of the new encounters, the collection and circulation of botanical and medicinal knowledge, the impact of long-distance trade on daily lives and material culture, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial forms of coercion and exploitation, and local struggles for rights.

  • This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries struggled with the challenges of modernity, development and democracy for ‘traditional’ Muslim societies. Through these case studies, students are encouraged to consider larger questions. Are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream?

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which, as its recent centenary highlighted, continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. More than 1,000,000 British subjects lost their lives as a result of military service during the conflict, and many more were physically or psychologically traumatised. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death, and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. While the rupture between the pre- and post-war worlds should not be overstated, the cultural, social, political and economic landscape of the UK was radically altered by the experience of the conflict. To put it mildly, then, the impact of the First World War on British society was profound and long-lasting, and the conflict retains considerable cultural resonance in twenty-first century Britain. This module explores the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it ended.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, there was not one but two Vietnam Wars – the Vietnamese struggles against the French between 1946 and 1954 and against the Americans from 1955 to 1973. This period, moreover, witnessed nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, the East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore, which resulted in the creation of new nation-states. Above all, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union/China was superimposed on Southeast Asians’ fight for independence. This module explores how nationalism and decolonisation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War. While focusing on how successive American administrations got involved in the Vietnam War, the module also considers the foreign policies of other great powers, such as France, Britain and China, and the agencies of Southeast Asian states. Rather than a ‘military history’ module, its primary concern is the diplomatic and political aspects of the Vietnam conflict.

  • This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences, all studied in translation. The upheaval of the French Revolution and dreams of radical transformation led in turn to socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology, and to fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence which haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values.

  • Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, won three successive general elections and occupied 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain. She divided popular opinion, domestically and internationally, and her historical significance is yet to be determined. What exactly was Thatcherism, and why is Margaret Thatcher's legacy still so controversial and contested? How far did Thatcherism succeed in its objectives, especially considering Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’?

  • The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or something else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This module adds a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present day.

  • The principal aim of this course is to immerse second-year literature students in the world of digital tools for exploring literature. Through extensive hands-on use of online parsing tools, algorithmic methods for assessing aspects such as word co-association, various types of visualization packages and a great deal more besides, students will realise the remarkable affordances of digital tools in reading and interpreting texts.

  • This module aims to develop your advanced writing skills for academic attainment and employability. You will be introduced to key forms of writing from a variety of professional contexts. An initial focus on the academic essay will enable you to develop writing from more familiar experience.

    A project involving designing and promoting a virtual exhibition will introduce you to the writing skills needed in heritage professions and group work. Real life writing and editing tasks introduced by industry professionals from the world of publishing will provide you with practical experience to share with potential employers. You will also be introduced to the requirements of pitches, policy briefs, and the work of writing in the legal professions.

     

  • The Independent Research Project offers students with a rewarding opportunity to develop their research and analytical skills. They can either write a longer-form 4000-word essay, which is a valuable stepping-stone towards the final year Dissertation, or produce a series of blog posts as a ‘Public History’ project suitable for a general audience. Each student’s Independent Research Project is linked to their chosen Further Subject module [see below], and they are supervised by their Further Subject tutor. In conjunction with their supervisor, students develop a research topic of their choosing. Emphasis is placed on primary source analysis, together with engaged with relevant historiographic debates among historians.

Year 3
  • The fiction of the last twenty years or so is a gigantic and diverse field. Now global in dimension, the range of novels and writers is simply enormous, and the field is growing at frantic speed. It’s very hard to find out what’s going on, to identify trends and significance. The aim of this module is to offer a sense of some of the larger themes and patterns in contemporary fiction.

  • Investigate a variety of literature produced about Chicago by writers who lived and worked in the city. Although the module will focus on novels, it will also include some poetry and nonfiction prose. You will develop knowledge of the historical development of Chicago in the 20th century, as seen through its writers, from 'muckrakers' such as Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, through the boosterism of Carl Sandburg, the ‘urban naturalism’ of James T. Farrell, Richard Wright and Nelson Algren, to the later interpretations of Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Stuart Dybek and Gwendolyn Brooks.

  • Examine the representation of murder in literature and popular culture. You will explore how and why writers from different historical periods and national traditions have created aesthetic works around murder, and how those aesthetic works engage with their historical, social and cultural contexts. You will ask why murder has remained a compelling subject for writers and audiences, and what literatures of murder reveal about, for example: the body, the self and its relationship to others, society and its institutions, moral and social responsibility, and faith or its absence.

  • A comprehensive study of three of Shakespeare's most difficult and most disturbing plays, collectively known as the ‘problem plays’: Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. You will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the plays, both as individual works of dramatic art and as a group of texts sharing distinctive concerns and techniques.

  • An advanced introduction to debates about the philosophy of literature. This module is structured around three key questions: the ethics of literature, what literature is presumed to reveal and the relationship between literature and its interpretation.

  • Brexit is not simply a political or economic event. It is a cultural event too. This module uses the cultural event as a lens to analyse some aspects of contemporary literature and theory, and some aspects of contemporary literature and theory to analyse Brexit. These aspects include theories of nationalism; affect theory; cultural memory; postcolonialism and refugee studies; Literature and Human rights; rhetoric.

  • This module will introduces you to a number of theorists of tragedy, and a number of significant tragic texts (in dramatic and other idioms) from Classical Greece to the present day. All works not written in English are studied in translation. You will explore a variety of theories of tragedy with specific attention to a range of tragic works in various modes: plays, novels, poetry and film.

  • Focusing primarily on Joyce’s major work Ulysses while putting it into context with Joyce’s other work, you will have the opportunity of getting to know and getting to enjoy what has been described as ‘the greatest novel of the 20th century’. You will examine it in various contexts, including Joyce’s other writings and the various critical approaches that have found inspiration from Joyce, whether new critical, humanist, post-structuralist, politicizing, feminist, historicizing or textualist responses to his work.

  • This module explores aspects of nineteenth-century literature, science and culture in some depth and brings well-known works like Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Eliot's Middlemarch and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend into conversation with the evolutionary thought of Charles Darwin, the social investigations of Henry Mayhew and nineteenth-century writings on psychology. You will look at a number of genres, including novels, poetry, journalism, science writing, autobiography, history, art criticism and examine elements of contemporary visual culture.

  • This module uses The Victorian Serial Novel, a web resource, to re-create the reading experience of Victorians over the period Oct 1846 to March 1847. You will read, in real-time, six works published within this time period, as and when they were published and in the format in which they first appeared.

  • In this module you will examine a variety of literary responses to the First World War 1914-1918: poetry, prose and other modes, from immediate responses to the war written by combatants on the front line and civilians on the home front, through to postwar reconsiderations of what the war meant to civilisation. You will look at the most famous works of wartime poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, and also examine realist novels, Modernist experimentation, postwar memoirs and Fantasy by both British and Continental writers.

  • Examine fictional representations of the girl across a range of texts, from Charlotte Brontë's eponymous Jane Eyre through to Antonia White's Catholic schoolgirl, Nanda and Ian McEwan's remorseful Briony Tallis. As well as enabling an exploration of female development and subjectivity, you will also engage with a range of questions relating to sexuality and desire, place and belonging, knowledge and resistance, art and creativity.

  • In this module you will study a broad range of writing for children from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century.

  • The end of the various colonial empires in the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of literatures from the newly emergent postcolonial societies. Rather than provide a survey of the field of postcolonial studies, this module aims at engaging the recent debates in postcolonial writing, theory and criticism. You will critically examine a range of postcolonial novels from Britain’s erstwhile empire, paying attention to issues such as the boons and contradictions of writing in the language of the colonial powers, the postcolonial reclamation of the Western canon etc. and focussing on genres such as postcolonial realism, modernism, magic realism, and science fiction. You will pay close attention to novels and their historical legacies of colonialism and resistance.

  • In this module you will consider two immediate, present-day concerns. The first is currently very much in circulation in English political culture and the media: what is and should be the relationship between England and continental Europe? How involved is and should the first be with the second? How close are they, how distant should they be? The second sounds rather more academic or theoretical, but is also at issue in the wider culture and involves us all. Over the past two decades, many thinkers and writers have announced that we have arrived at 'the end of modernity', and many more have declared that we are'post-modern', that we inhabit a 'postmodern condition'. Yet round about us, all the time, we hear of one kind of enthusiastic 'modernization' or another. What sense can we make of this?

  • In this module you will consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing and consider writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and criticism. You will look at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers becoming familiar with a range of methodologies for making your own poetic practice.

  • The Middle Ages are often characterised in the popular imagination as barbarous, incredulous, prudish, and naïve. In this module you will look at the presentation and function of violence, sex, and magic in a range of medieval literature, from the Old English Riddles to Arthurian romance. In so doing, you will consider the sophisticated but sometimes alien worldviews that lie behind them as well as the literary achievements of the works that contain them. You will examine texts from a variety of different genres in both Old and Middle English.

  • In this module you will address the relationship between literature and the visual arts from c.1760 to the 1890s. You will look at theoretical issues of how the visual and the verbal arts are defined and consider their compatibility through a number of case studies of visual-verbal interactions from the period studied. You will also address the rise of the visual as the dominant cultural form of the Victorian period, tracing the development of illustrated media and new visual technologies including photography and early cinema, and the concomitant rise of the new phenomenon of the art critic - the professional interpreter of images - in the 1890s.

  • This module focuses on a key moment in mid-20th century art and culture: the period when the New York Schools of poetry, painting and composition emerged in parallel. In the postwar period, the city took over from Paris as the centre of contemporary art. Abstract Expressionism quickly achieved global popularity, establishing the Museum of Modern Art as the world’s leading contemporary art museum. However, other cultural currents also made a great impact on their respective disciplines. The witty, fast-moving work of the New York School Poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler) challenged the authority of High Modernism in the field of poetry. The radical music of John Cage and Morton Feldman posed a similar challenge to established European composers. The leading proponents of these tendencies did not work in isolation from other disciplines. The poets, for example, wrote about art and Cage and Feldman were both inspired, in different ways, by painters such as Rauschenberg and Guston. This module examines all three fields and the relations between them.

  • The 1930s was a decade of extremes: extreme financial instability (after the Wall Street Crash of 1929) and extreme politics, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. British colonialism was showing fractures; there was a war in mainland Europe (in Spain), and the increasing threat of another World War, which eventually came to pass. Could it be that it closely - all too closely - resembles the decade that we’re living in now – with the rise of nationalisms, extreme ideologies, unstable international relations, following on from a colossal crash in the financial markets? What can we learn about our world by reading fiction from the 1930s?

  • A chronological study of the novels of Virginia Woolf covering the period 1915-1941. These will be supplemented by selections from Woolf’s criticism and other writings. In addition to demonstrating Woolf’s development as a writer and familiarizing students with a range of key critical ideas relating to her work, you will explore Woolf’s relation to Modernism and realism; questions about language, form and consciousness; sexuality and androgyny; Woolf’s feminism and politics; war and subjectivity; nation, Empire and history; mourning and loss; and the maternal.

  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the middle Ages. Chaucer describes a group of pilgrims, drawn from all parts of late medieval English society, who enter into a tale-telling competition on their way to Canterbury. Their stories include romances, fabliaux, saints’ lives and beast fables, and address themes of love and sorrow, trickery and deception, fate and free will, satire, tragedy and magic, as well as raising questions about the nature and purposes of storytelling itself. In this module you will read The Canterbury Tales in detail in the original Middle English. You will examine how the tales relate to their literary and cultural contexts, and read them in the light of different schools of modern criticism. You will also have the opportunity to read a range of earlier writers who influenced Chaucer, including Ovid, Boethius, Dante and Boccaccio, and later writers who responded to him, including Lydgate, Hoccleve and Dryden.

  • In this module you will study the complete career of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), looking at eight novels in their historical and cultural contexts. You will examine Dickens's life and times, and the cultural discourses that shaped his fiction; the serialisation and illustration of his work, and the themes, forms and structures of his writing. You will also consider the richness and specificity of Dickens' actual work.

  • In this module you will have the opportunity to read in detail and in chronological order the full range of works by Oscar Wilde, from his early poetry to his last letters. Wilde’s work has captured the widest possible public attention since his death in 1900, and his readers and audiences are spread across the globe. His work is intensely literary and profoundly political yet it is popular and fleet-of-foot. And just as his output is exceptionally varied, so too the questions which arise from its study will take students in many directions. Aesthetic poetry, the role of the critic, the construction and betrayal of national and sexual identities, symbolist drama, platonic dialogue, fairy tale, farce, satire, wit: these are some of the topics you will examine.

  • In this module you will explore the works of American author Herman Melville (1819-1891) in breadth and depth. While Melville’s whaling epic, Moby-Dick (1851) is the lynchpin of the module, you will also have the opportunity to study Melville’s early travel writing, his fictions of social criticism, his short stories, and his poetry. You will consider critical approaches to Melville’s work, situating him in mid-century America – a time of social transformation, economic crisis, tensions over slavery, and increasing calls for a national American culture – as well as looking as his works through the lens of post-colonial theory, gender studies, and queer theory.

  • Often described as the most difficult and influential poems of the twentieth-century, T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" is undoubtedly one of the key Modernist texts. You will you look at Eliot's 1922 poem, along with a selection of his critical writings, engaging in an intensive reading experience in which you will examine ideas about composition, structure, voice, time, myth and intertextuality.

  • The twenty-first century has seen an explosion of adaptations of Shakespeare around the globe. These performances often draw attention to new theatre traditions as well as new ways of seeing the world. In this module you will examine the adaptations of three plays, considering the power of Shakespeare’s work to unite communities around particular topics, experiences and ideas.

  • World-literature critics worry that queer theorists foist a Western, elitist approach to LGBTQ+ identities on to the rest of the world, that is, a Western homonormativity performs a similar role as the unequal distribution of power in a globalised world. Queer theorists, on the other hand, are anxious that queer perspectives get lost in world-literature theory and texts, which tend to, they argue, either privilege a masculine nationalist agenda or not pay enough attention to the effects of globalisation on local articulations of race, gender and sexuality. In this module you will explore this productive tension by paying close attention to variety of texts from around the world.

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

  • The dissertation is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and so to deepen your understanding of literature, culture and critical theory.

  • The Later Roman Empire module spans the four centuries that marked the end of classical antiquity and the rise of the early medieval world. The module opens with the transformation of the Roman empire under Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337), and with the conversion of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, in AD 312. Students explore the fundamental political, social and religious developments of the fourth century, which saw the emergence of a Christian Roman empire and the migration of the Goths and Huns towards the imperial frontier. We then compare the contrasting fortunes of the western and eastern regions of the empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the west imperial power collapsed under the waves of barbarian invasions, to be succeeded by the Germanic kingdoms of the Goths and Franks and by the rising prestige of the Roman papacy. Yet in the east the empire survived and reached a new peak during the attempted reconquest of the emperor Justinian (527-565), before triumphing in the last great conflict between the Roman and Persian empires with which this module concludes. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through an impressive combination of literary sources (read in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • By the middle of the seventh century, the very existence of the Byzantium (also known as the Byzantine Empire) was in question. It had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital city of Constantinople was now under direct threat. Yet the state not only weathered this period of crisis but revived and flourished so that by 1050, it was once more a major power in the region, stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why it survived, how it reversed the long series of defeats and the profound changes that took place in its military organisation, society, religious life, art and culture. It also examines how one key to its success was the way in which it interacted with the world around it, particularly with the Islamic caliphate, western Europe and the Slavonic world. Although the Byzantines frequently fought their neighbours, they preferred where possible to influence them through diplomacy and conversion. Then in the later eleventh century, new enemies appeared on the borders and Byzantium began to contract once more, a series of events that was to provide the background for the later launch of the First Crusade in 1095.

  • In this period London grew from a town of 50,000 inhabitants to a capital city of some 200,000. The Reformation not only swept away ‘superstitious’ beliefs, but destroyed much of the fabric and topography of the medieval City - this module will consider how Londoners coped with these changes. How were Londoners fed and watered? How were crafts organised? How was the City governed?

  • Between 1553 and 1603, England faced the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth. Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures. Should Mary be considered a political pioneer and England’s most overlooked monarch? Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? This module urges students to reassess the traditional image of the Tudor monarchy.

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well.

  • ‘Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin’, noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker’s perceptive comments strike at the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasise the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King’s 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them, as well as addressing the central controversies and debates surrounding King’s movement leadership. The module covers topics including: desegregation of schools, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Albany and Birmingham campaigns, the March on Washington, the Sit-in Movement and tensions with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

  • From ‘Downton Abbey’ to ‘Call the Midwife’, we might think we know the history of women’s lives in twentiethcentury Britain. Take the 1920s: the slender flapper, cigarette-holder in hand and off to cocktails or a night at the flicks, epitomised the surface glamour of modernity. Possessed of an office job and a vote, she also boasted a swimsuit, sex appeal, and a voguish knowledge of Freud. But was her world really one without limits? This module explores the experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, political, economic and cultural transformation. We determine the constraints on, and advantages gained by, women in relation to education and paid work, citizenship and feminism, war and peace, migration and immigration, and sexuality and family life, among other themes. We look at the places and spaces that shaped women’s experiences, from the home to the workplace and beyond, as well as tracing the ways that family, community and the media all moulded ideas of what it was to be ‘feminine’. Along with gender roles and expectations, we consider how social class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality and location all played their parts in shaping women’s experiences and their hopes for their futures. Drawing on wide-ranging historical scholarship, as well as primary sources including film, autobiography, photography and oral history, we plot the changes in British women’s lives and ask what continuities there are between women’s lives today and the experiences of their mothers and grandmothers.

  • The module examines the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions. The spread of literacy, the rise of popular culture, and mass politics all contrived to change the nature and the values of Russian society. In the absence of any established system of political freedom until the 1905 Revolution, Russian literature was a barometer of popular sentiment and a forum in which the great moral and political issues of the day were debated. The tension between reformism and revolution dominated the period. For many, the obduracy of the autocracy precluded the possibility of seeking a gradual reform of the state. Others struggled to reform the Empire whilst staving off violent revolution. The 1905 Revolution was a seminal moment in Russian history in this period. It heralded the explosion of mass movements onto the political stage confirmed for many observers their worst fears of the anarchy and violence that would accompany social revolution. The emphasis throughout is on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

  • In the first five decades of the twentieth century, the lands of East Central Europe experienced a violent transformation, perhaps unlike any other the world had ever seen. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires collapsed during the war decade of 1912-1923, giving way to fragile nation-states marred by a multitude of problems throughout the interwar period. This module dissects the causes of imperial collapse and highlights its deep-felt consequences for the successor states of Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It explains how multi-ethnic coexistence gave way to conflict, how democracy waltzed with authoritarianism and how eventually these former borderlands turned into the bloodlands of the Second World War. Using a wide range of sources, (including texts, images, comics, and music), the module examines in turn: multiethnic coexistence in the imperial lands; the unmixing of people during the First World War; majorities and minorities in the interwar period; the introduction of liberal democracy and the growing appeal of fascism, communism and authoritarianism; and, finally, the mass atrocities committed by erstwhile neighbours during the Second World War. Throughout this tumultuous period, East Central Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, but came to be nostalgically remembered as a mosaic of ethnicities. The premise of this module is therefore simple: we cannot understand the dynamics of the modern world without understanding the story of East Central Europe in the early twentieth century.

  • This module explores the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. By the mid-18th century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought, and ongoing debates over progress and modernity interacted with the democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. This in turn fuelled 20th-century debates over liberalism and socialism, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation, and the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

  • This course will review the modern literature on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression Slump for Britain and America during the 1920s and 1930s. Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply in to depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery.

  • This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present day. It deals with the development of the concept, with a particular focus on the man who coined the term ‘genocide’, the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and the debates in the United Nations which led to the formulation and acceptance of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948. We consider too the merits of different approaches to studying genocide, including political science and anthropology as well as history. The module then proceeds by examining the following case studies: the colonisation of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia. In each case, we do not simply say whether or not genocide occurred but try to understand genocide in the context of the unfolding of a dynamic of violence, usually in the context of war and massive social crisis. We then analyse different explanations for genocide, including issues of nation-building and the ‘world system’ of competing states, race-theory, gender, and social psychological explanations of aggression. The module concludes by examining the promises and problems of genocide prevention and humanitarian intervention.

  • Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Indeed, terrorism as a specific form of political violence has been employed across a variety of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. The module aims to examine the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society throughout this period. The module adopts a comparative thematic approach examining various waves and manifestations of terrorism including: anarchist terror in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; anti-colonial ‘terror’ used during the anti-colonial wars of independence in the post-Second World War period; the pervasive left-wing ‘Red Terror’ of the 1970s; terrorism employed by ethno-nationalist and separatist groups; ‘religious’ terrorism in various traditions; the resurgence of far-right terrorism; and finally the oft-overlooked phenomenon of state terrorism. This comparative approach employs various case studies to examine ubiquitous themes including power, identity, politics, society, the state and religion, all vis-à-vis terrorism, and deploys a diverse range of primary source material (both textual and audio-visual) to interrogate these themes.

  • Sharīa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratisation in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, by introducing them to the intellectual structure of the law and then tracing how sharīʿa has been manifested in a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the twenty-first century, including the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and modern Britain. The module explores various areas of law, including criminal law, constitutional law, property and trusts, and slavery, but it has a particular focus on family law – marriage, divorce and child-rearing – and its impact on gender in Muslim societies. The module uses these case studies to address the fundamental question of the relationship between sharīʿa law and political power: is sharīʿa law a constraint on government, or a tool government can use? How can a Muslim government adhering to sharīʿa law legislate? Can sharīʿa law be reconciled with democratic government? The module is accessible to all: previous knowledge of Islamic or Middle Eastern history is not required.

  • The objective of this course is to prepare literature students for work in the creative industries by developing their use of digital technologies in responding to literature. In using digital technology to respond to literature both critically and aesthetically, literature students can become adept at various practices that are of immediate, valuable use in the creative industry workplace. This course will cultivate these practices, show how they grow organically out of a love for reading and writing, and demonstrate how they are skills that are in great demand in a wide range of creative workplaces.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, ideas and products across the Atlantic basin during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Through the assigned readings and discussions, we analyse the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Themes covered include imperial competition, migration, changing understandings of community and space because of the new encounters, the collection and circulation of botanical and medicinal knowledge, the impact of long-distance trade on daily lives and material culture, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial forms of coercion and exploitation, and local struggles for rights.

  • This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries struggled with the challenges of modernity, development and democracy for ‘traditional’ Muslim societies. Through these case studies, students are encouraged to consider larger questions. Are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream?

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which, as its recent centenary highlighted, continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. More than 1,000,000 British subjects lost their lives as a result of military service during the conflict, and many more were physically or psychologically traumatised. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death, and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. While the rupture between the pre- and post-war worlds should not be overstated, the cultural, social, political and economic landscape of the UK was radically altered by the experience of the conflict. To put it mildly, then, the impact of the First World War on British society was profound and long-lasting, and the conflict retains considerable cultural resonance in twenty-first century Britain. This module explores the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it ended.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, there was not one but two Vietnam Wars – the Vietnamese struggles against the French between 1946 and 1954 and against the Americans from 1955 to 1973. This period, moreover, witnessed nationalist and revolutionary movements in other parts of Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, the East Indies (Indonesia), Malaya and Singapore, which resulted in the creation of new nation-states. Above all, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union/China was superimposed on Southeast Asians’ fight for independence. This module explores how nationalism and decolonisation in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War. While focusing on how successive American administrations got involved in the Vietnam War, the module also considers the foreign policies of other great powers, such as France, Britain and China, and the agencies of Southeast Asian states. Rather than a ‘military history’ module, its primary concern is the diplomatic and political aspects of the Vietnam conflict.

  • This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences, all studied in translation. The upheaval of the French Revolution and dreams of radical transformation led in turn to socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology, and to fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence which haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values.

  • Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, won three successive general elections and occupied 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain. She divided popular opinion, domestically and internationally, and her historical significance is yet to be determined. What exactly was Thatcherism, and why is Margaret Thatcher's legacy still so controversial and contested? How far did Thatcherism succeed in its objectives, especially considering Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’?

  • The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or something else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This module adds a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present day.

  • The capture of the capital of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium) by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481) on 29 May 1453, was one of the pivotal events of the later Middle Ages. The module opens with a survey of the background: the decline of Byzantium, the rise of the Ottoman Turks and importance of the Italian maritime republics of Genoa and Venice. It then turns to the unsuccessful Ottoman attack on Constantinople in 1422, the subsequent Byzantine bid to secure western military aid at the Council of Ferrara/Florence, the disastrous crusade of Varna of 1443-4 and the lead-up to the final Ottoman attack. We make a detailed examination of the many contemporary accounts of the siege and consider their evidence as to why Mehmed II succeeded where so many others had failed in the past. Particular attention is paid to how eyewitnesses explained the disaster, and how they balanced metaphysical reasons such as the judgment of God and the wheel of fortune with practical ones, such as human weakness, the role of heavy cannon and a desire to blame anyone whom they disliked. Finally, the aftermath of the fall of Constantinople is examined: the call for a crusade to retake the city and the efforts of Pope Pius II to orchestrate a united response to the Turkish victory.

  • Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was obsessed with crusading and he dedicated his pontificate to defeating the enemies of the Church. A profound challenge to his authority came from the Cathars of southern France - men and women following an austere lifestyle and holding a dualist belief in a Good God and an Evil God. Using a series of vivid contemporary narratives, in conjunction with other documents (including inquisitorial records), this course examines the beliefs and organisation of the Cathars and the progress of the Crusade and the Inquisition against them.

  • This module examines critical engagement with commercial and industrial society in Britain during the long nineteenth century. Waste, competition, selfishness, vice and urban poverty were seen as concomitant to the advance of commercial society, and as the 19th century’s first industrialised nation, Britain offered radical and socialist as well as conservative critiques of these developments. Arguments ranged from alternative visions of modernity to returning to a more idyllic past, and set the background for the modern environmental movement emerging in the later 20th century.

  • This module extends, chronologically, from the making of metropolitan Berlin before 1914 to the ramifications of reunification after 1990. Topics include, among others: Berlin society in its various classes, milieus and communities; women across the decades and regimes; high culture and (ethnic, artistic, sexual and criminal) subcultures; the built environment from Wilhelmine grandeur, Republican sobriety, Nazi and Communist showcase architecture to post-war and post-wall reconstruction; the flowering of Jewish Berlin and its extinction; revolution, counter-revolution and the ‘golden twenties’; political activism in the Weimar, Nazi, and Communist eras; anti-fascist resistance, East Berlin dissent and West Berlin non-conformism; conquest, occupation and division; four-power-status, cold war and détente; the Wall and its fall; in short, everything from high politics to low life.

  • This module examines the ups and downs in American-Chinese relations during the Cold War. It examines how and why the United States and Communist China transformed their relationship, from hostile enemies in the 1950s and much of the 1960s to tacit allies by the 1970s. Events and issues covered include the direct and indirect confrontations between America and China over Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam; the roles of the Soviet Union, Britain and Japan in their changing relationships; and their divergent views on such issues as Third World revolutions, nuclear weapons and international trade. Thematically, the module considers how ideology, personality, domestic considerations, cultural stereotypes and alliance politics influenced the foreign policies of Washington and Beijing and the dynamics of Sino-American interactions. Students are expected to approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from the Chinese viewpoint, by exploring both Western and (translated) Chinese primary sources, such as diplomatic documents, memoirs, public speeches and political cartoons. By placing Sino-American relations in the wider international and domestic contexts, this module shows how the two great powers were shaped by, and helped shape, the global Cold War. It provides valuable historical lessons for managing Sino-American relations in the twenty-first century

  • Between the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the outbreak of World War Two, the Soviet Union experienced a programme of forced modernisation, unprecedented levels of state repression, and the devastation of WWII. The course will examine how Stalinist policies amounted to an attempt to sculpt a new society through a combination of forging 'Soviet' citizens, and excising undesirable elements from the body social. It will also explore how different constituencies within Soviet society supported, sought accommodation with, or resisted the values and policies of the state.

  • This module covers the crucial transitional period in which Christianity came to dominate the Mediterranean world, from the accession of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine in 306 to the death of Augustine of Hippo in 430. The fundamental political, social and religious changes that took root during these dramatic years, which also witnessed the early Germanic invasions into the Roman empire, are brought to life by a broad spectrum of translated literary texts and material culture. Students engage with a wide selection of influential writers: Eusebius of Caesarea (Constantine’s biographer), the last pagan emperor Julian ‘the Apostate’, the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, the orator and teacher Libanius, and the Church fathers Jerome (with his ascetic circle of female students) and Augustine (author of the Confessions and City of God). We also examine other forms of evidence: the laws of the Theodosian Code, the inscriptions left by the Roman senatorial aristocracy, and an array of surviving examples of Late Roman art and architecture. The scope and diversity of these sources reflect the transformations of the period itself and offer dissertation opportunities for students with interests ranging from religious and political history to gender studies or the Roman empire’s ‘Decline and Fall’.

  • From Henry VII to Charles II, this module explores how the English monarchy represented its authority and power in the midst of the great political and religious changes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of textual and material sources, students explore how different rulers sought to sustain and enhance their authority through how they represented themselves, and consider how the success or failure of royal image influenced the dramatic events of the English Reformation, Civil War and Restoration.

     

  • Victorians were both fascinated and repelled by their capital city, often at the same time. For the American writer Henry James, London was not only "magnificent", but also a "brutal" city which had "gathered together so many of the darkest sides of life". This course strolls through the sights, smells, and senses of Victorian Babylon, the "dreadfully delightful city" with its extremes of imperial splendour and crushing poverty.

  • Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the modern world since 1945. It has been employed across a range of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. This module examines the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence, and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society down to the present day.

  • In the 1850s photography was established in Britain – and altered how Britons saw themselves forever. This module looks at the relationship between images, society and culture, from the arrival of the camera to cinema and early TV. From the work of art photographers Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron to camerawielding asylum doctors and ‘spirit photographers’ who believed they could portray the dead, photography became a core part of Victorian culture. Photography transformed understandings of place – and changed the way the British saw the Empire. The novelty of the photographic technologies, like the stereograph, often fascinated and delighted. We also look at the role of photography in everyday life – from the staid Victorian family portrait to contemporary scandals over pornography. Term two focuses on watching and reading films – and how this new medium represented twentieth-century Britain. Class, race and gender were reconfigured on the silver screen. We explore the growth of film culture in the 1930s, the impact of the Second World War on film and Postwar British film culture including 1940s costume drama and New Wave Cinema in the 1960s. We finish with the arrival of early TV and a Coronation Street case-study. Students look at a wide range of visual sources including newly digitised collections of photography (e.g. The Wellcome, Imperial War Museum, Frith Collections) and independent research is strongly encouraged. Each term begins with an ‘orientation’ session Introducing methods and techniques for film and image interpretation.

  • This module provides a detailed and intensive overview of the history of African American Islam. It focuses primarily on the development of three African American Muslim communities in the twentieth century including the Nation of Islam and the Imam W.D. Mohammed community. The module examines the formative years of the Nation of Islam, the Islamic themes in Elijah Muhammad’s leadership and the efforts that other Muslim communities made to challenge his legitimacy as a Muslim leader. The module focuses largely on Elijah Muhammad’s national minister, Malcolm X. It examines Malcolm’s conversion, ministry, politics and debates surrounding his assassination. The module assesses the NOI’s continued growth after 1965 and the splintering of the community in 1975 into orthodox and unorthodox factions. The module examines the rise of Malcolmology in the 1990s and popular culture. The module also introduces students to recent studies that explore the work of women in the original NOI and the organisation’s relationship with Muslim communities in and beyond the US. The second half of the module focuses on the resurrected NOI. Topics within this half of the module include a detailed examination of the Million Man March in 1995, Louis Farrakhan’s leadership, racial politics, the Justice or Else March and the NOI’s work with Black Lives Matter, and interfaith outreach.

  • This module examines the development of atomic weaponry and its effects on Western society during the 20th century. The A- and H-Bombs are arguably the most influential technological developments of the last century, affecting geopolitics, military strategy, and the shape of post-1945 society, as well as granting to a few the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable. This had a profound effect on politics and society, not only for the leading western states but globally with arms proliferation and the spread of atomic power.

  • “At last I can live like a human being!” Throughout Roman literature, stories such as Emperor Nero’s celebration of his vast Golden House in Rome abound, and reveal how the domestic sphere was used to construct notions of belonging and status in the Roman world. Students will compare textual sources like the letters of Cicero and Pliny the Younger with archaeological remains from Rome, Pompeii and beyond, bringing to life the sounds, smells and sights of Roman domestic space in all their multisensory complexity.

  • The American Civil War was the defining moment in the history of the United States. The American populace, north and south, white and black, found themselves grappling with two issues – what would be the nature of the political union that formed the backbone of the American nation state, and what would be the status of African Americans within that nation. Ostensibly, these matters were resolved as the bloody conflict resulted in the abolition of slavery and the settling of political debates about the relationship between states and the federal government. But were these contentious issues of politics and race truly resolved? America’s post-Civil War history certainly suggests not. Moreover, a cursory glance at modern America points to a continued schismatic discourse about the power of the federal government and the issue of race. Put simply, if one is to understand the nation’s more recent history and politics they must get to grips with the Civil War, the crucible in which the modern American nation was forged. This module takes a chronological approach to the period from 1848 to 1877. Starting with the sectional divisions over slavery in the 1850s and ending with the tumultuous conclusion of the Reconstruction period, this module explores the key causes, consequences, events, personalities, interpretations and legacies of the American Civil War. It approaches these important questions and themes from a range of historical standpoints, including military, social, political and cultural perspectives.

  • ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him’ (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882). This module offers students an opportunity to engage with leading modern thinkers – including Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud – as they confronted fundamental questions of human existence regarding God, religious belief, science and history. The module concludes at the beginning of the 20th century with the founders of modern sociology (Durkheim and Weber) and psychology (Freud) and their radical new ideas about the role of religions and their apparent decline.

  • The century from about 1050 to 1150 was one of profound upheaval and dynamic change in Europe. Old states were strengthened, and new ones founded under increasingly centralised power; demographic growth resulted in the expansion of towns and new rural settlements, while relative peace brought by strong government resulted in unparalleled opportunities for the emergence of new cultural forms. At the centre of all these changes was the Church, both as an institution and as the director of Christian life, and at the heart of the Christian life lay monasticism. From its beginning in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, monasticism had always represented the striving toward human perfection. But by c.1050, many Europeans found the contemporary forms of religious life far from perfect. The needs of society had made monasteries not only refuges from the world but vital components in the operations of that world. Monasteries were part of the system of land ownership, and thus of local power. But they differed from other political agencies in one respect: they were also mediators of divine power. A ‘revolution’ in religious life occurred between c.1080 and 1150 because many came to understand these two functions as incompatible. But how religious life should be led – through personal austerity or in strictly regulated communities, in poverty or in comfort, with sexes mixed or kept apart – became a battleground among reformers. We look at the varied hopes and ideals of reformers, and the lengths to which they went to realise them.

  • Explorers and Inventors in Classical and Late Antiquity
  • Inverts, deviants, androgynes, tribades, sodomites, pansies, sapphists, sissies, tomboys, brown hatters, dykes, perverts: queers. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Britain these, and many other such terms, have been employed to identify and codify queer sexual practices and identities. Beginning with the emergence of homosexuality as a defined modern identity in the late nineteenth century, this module goes on to explore how queer identities were constructed and contested, described and debated in both mainstream culture and in the queer subcultures that emerged and took shape, laying the foundations for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identities as we understand them today. We consider how queerness captured the fascination of the medical profession, the legal system, the media and the general public. Moreover, we investigate the interaction between these dominant discourses and queer people themselves, examining how queer people lived and loved in times of turbulence, from the interventions of sexologists to criminalisation, to same-sex desire in times of war, to the creation of modern queer communities. Along the way we also ask questions about how to research queer history. This module is multi-disciplinary, engaging with a diverse range of primary source material (including textual and audio-visual) and in particular makes use of oral history sources as a way of accessing the lived experience of queer people.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take a total of twelve course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice. 

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, large and small seminar groups and occasionally in one-to-one tutorials. Outside classes you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle, which provides a wide range of supporting materials. A Personal Tutor will guide and support throughout your degree and you will be supervised by a member of staff when preparing your second-year independent research essay and your final-year dissertation. 

We use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work.

A Levels: AAB-ABB

Required subjects:

  • A Level B in an essay-based subject
  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.

T-levels

We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start of your course.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 7.0 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 69 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE IV.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Choosing English and History at Royal Holloway will give you the skills and qualities that employers are looking for; it demonstrates that you enjoy being challenged and are able to understand complex issues.  You will be well-informed, culturally-informed and alert, with strong skills in problem-solving, organisation and planning, research, critical and analytical skills and the ability to craft an argument.  

  • 92% of the recent English graduates and 86% of history graduates were in employment or enhancing their skills with further study six months after graduation (Unistats 2015).
  • The English department runs work placement schemes with The Daily Telegraph, the BBC’s Newsnight and publishing companies. During your second year, you will meet with your personal tutor group to work on personal development planning.
  • Our recent graduates have entered a wide range of careers including: as curators (Imperial War Museum, Museum of London), in information management (British Museum), teaching, finance, law (a barrister in the Lord Chancellor's office), broadcasting (Director of the BBC), marketing/PR, national defence (Royal Navy), or the performing arts.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,800

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25, the fee is £9,250 for that year.

**This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase tuition fees annually for overseas fee-paying students. Please be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree. The upper limit of any such annual rise has not yet been set for courses starting in 2024 but will advertised here once confirmed.  For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

4th

in the UK for creative writing

Source: Complete University Guide, 2024

1st

in the UK for world leading or internationally excellent research (English)

Source: THE REF institutions ranked by subject 2022

96%

say staff make the subject engaging

Source: National Student Survey, 2023 (Creative Writing)

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