Enterprising Britain: Culture and Commerce in the 19th Century (HIH1541)

StaffHelen Doe - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Sources relating to business, both legal and illegal, in nineteenth century Britain will be used to explore key elements of business success for men and women in the expanding commercial world and in the wake of the industrial revolution. Examples range from a small business with smuggling connections to large industrial concerns such as shipbuilding and a major ironworks.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Assess the challenges facing the business man or woman during times of considerable commercial growth or during war, and the manner in which the challenges were met.
  • 2. Assess critically the range of sources for business and commerce in the nineteenth century.
  • 3. Critique modern British historical texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. bias, reliability, etc., and to compare the validity of different types of source.
  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to answer a question briefly and concisely.
  • 6. Present work orally, to respond to questions orally, and to think quickly of questions to ask other students.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
  • 10. Write to a very tight word-length.

Syllabus plan

The module will examine nineteenth-century businesses from shipbuilding and iron foundries to village business and smuggling. It will consider the aspects of business from start up, investment, workforce management, marketing and customer relationships. Documents to be discussed include: letters, business accounts, newspapers, trade directories, census returns, diaries and government records.
1 Introduction: Running a Business in the Nineteenth Century
2: The Dragon's Den? Getting the Investment
3: Advertising: Reaching the Customer
4: Networks and Markets
5: Industrial Relations: Managing the Workforce
6: Managing the Managers
7: Success or Failure? Business Accounts
8: Relations between Business Partners
9: The Businesswoman
10: The Smuggling Business
11: The Survival of the Family Firm

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2Lecture: introduction to the module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2010 x 2-hour seminars/workshops: at a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week.
Guided independent study128Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing a weekly source essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (3-4 students)10-15 minutes1-4, 6-9Oral
Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries500 words1-4, 6-7, 9Mark and written comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries602000 words (500 per commentary) (15% per commentary)1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments
Essay on Sources401500 words1-5, 7-8, 10Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries1-5, 7-8, 10Referred/deferred period
1500 word essay1500 word essay1-5, 7-8, 10Referred/deferred period

Re-assessment notes

You will be required to submit the same written work as for the summative assessment; if you are referred your mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Benson, John, The Penny Capitalists: A Study of Nineteenth-century Working-class Entrepreneurs, (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1983)
Boyce, Gordon and Ville, Simon, The Development of Modern Business, (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002)
Church, R. (ed.), The Dynamics of Victorian Business: Problems and Perspectives to the 1870s (London, Allen and Unwin, 1980)
Church, Roy, The Great Victorian Boom, 1850-1873, (London: Macmillan, 1975)
Kirby, M. W. and Rose, M. B., (eds), Business Enterprise in Modern Britain, (London: Routledge, 1994)
Payne, P.L., British Entrepreneurs in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1974).
Ville, S., English Shipowning during the Industrial Revolution; Michael Henley and Son, London Shipowners 1770-1830 (Manchester, 1987).

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