British Naval Power 1660-1945 (HIH2161)

StaffDr Roger Morriss - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module examines the rise, period of supremacy, and sudden decline of British naval power, setting it in both its domestic context (through its relationship with economic and technological developments, with state power and the growth of state bureaucracy, and with British society) and in its international context (by comparison with its major European rivals and by examining its operations throughout the world and the part it played in Britain's Great Power position).

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Ability to evaluate the main themes in the subject, and to collate information upon and evaluate in greater detail those aspects of the module discussed in seminars, and especially those topics selected by the students for their essays.
  • 2. Ability to trace the development of British naval power in the period.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to analyse the key developments within a particular historical environment.
  • 4. Ability to collate data from a range of sources.
  • 5. Ability to trace long-term as well as short-term historical developments
  • 6. Ability to understand and deploy historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 7. Ability to handle different approaches to history in areas of controversy.
  • 8. Ability to work with primary sources under direction from the module tutor.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Independent study and group work, including participating in oral discussions.
  • 10. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.

Syllabus plan

1660-c.1815: Why did Charles II want a navy?; The Dutch Wars; Rivalry with France; The debate over naval deployment; The organisation of the Georgian navy: administration, recruiting, health, ship design, building and maintenance; The Seven Years' War and the War of American Independence; Peacetime uses of naval power: Britain's naval rivals; Raw materials and grand strategy; The Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. 1815-1945: Naval Power, the British economy and society; The Navy and Empire; Enforcing the Victorian Pax Britannica; The coming of steam; Officers and men in the nineteenth century; The ironclad revolution; The new naval powers: the Anglo-German arms race; Submarines and air power: the new factors; The end of naval supremacy.

The lectures will be invaluable as a spine through which all students can be brought to a similar level of knowledge, and through which ideas and controversies can be transmitted. The seminars will focus on particular aspects of the subject-matter, with a view to offering a fuller understanding than can be delivered through lectures, allowing the students to develop their skills and knowledge more fully. Students will be expected to prepare for these seminars in advance.

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 activities22Lectures (22x1hr)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities11Seminars (11x1hr)

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
Better of two essay marks333000 wordmark and written comments
Exam672 hourProvided on request by module tutor

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

P.M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (Macmillan, 1983) R. Harding, The Evolution of the Sailing Navy 1509-1815 (Macmillan, 1995) R. Davis, The Rise of English Shipping Industry (Macmillan, 1962) N.A.M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean. A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 (Penguin, 2004) N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World: an anatomy of the Georgian Navy (Collins, 1986) W.C.B. Tunstall, Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail (Conway Maritime, 1990) J.T. Sumida, In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, technology and British naval policy 1889-1914 (Unwin Hyman, 1989)

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Available as distance learning?