Interpreting British Party Politics, 1906-1979 (HISM165)

StaffDr David Thackeray - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to analyse the main developments in British party politics between the election of the last Liberal government in 1906 and the Thatcher era. The period saw considerable political flux, and was characterised by considerable change in some ways  such as the decline of the Liberals and the rise of Labour, the coming of democracy, and dramatic changes in the nature of elections and electioneering  but, at the same time, significant continuity  such as the maintenance of liberal democracy and the survival of the Conservative party. This module aims to investigate the different ways in which these developments have been and can be interpreted, as well as to demonstrate and analyse the various types of primary source that historians use in working on these problems. By the end of the module, students should have a close understanding of twentieth-century British politics, and should be in a position to go forward to independent research in the area.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. From the basis of a detailed knowledge of the development of British party politics in the period, students completing this module should have the ability to analyse and comment upon the key historical debates explaining patterns of political change and conflict in the country.
  • 2. They should also have knowledge of a wide selection of primary materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically
  • 3. They should be in a position to start working on a dissertation on some aspect of this subject, should they so choose.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence. They should be able to identify and understand the nature of original sources
  • 5. They should have a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates
  • 6. Students should be able to research for themselves and present independent accounts and interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Display a capacity for independent critical study and thought
  • 8. The ability to apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of on-line finding aids).
  • 9. The ability to construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 10. Students should have the capacity to work as an individual and to work with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).

Syllabus plan

1. The decline of the Liberals and the rise of Labour, 1906-24: an ongoing debate? 2. Conservatism in the era of Baldwin and Chamberlain 3. Special Collections session 4. The only effective bulwark against reaction and revolution? Inter war Labour 5. The failure of political extremism? 6. The Conservative party in war and peace, 1939-51 7. The Labour party in war and peace, 1939-51 8. The survival of the Liberal party, 1924-59 9. The politics of affluence, 1951-64 10. The end of consensus? 1964-79 11. Thatcherism and Post-Thatcherism

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 activities22workshops
Guided independent study278 independent study

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
essay38 3,000 word 1-10Individual feedback through personal tutorials.
essay373,000 word 1-10Individual feedback through personal tutorials.
Individual presentation 251-10Individual feedback through personal tutorials.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

 P. Addison, The Road to 1945 (Cape, 1975)

L. Black, The Political Culture of the Left in Affluent Britain, 1951-64 (Palgrave, 2003)

D. Butler and G. Butler, Twentieth Century Political Facts, 1900-2000 (8th edn., Macmillan, 2000)

S. Fielding, The Labour Governments 1964-70 volume I: Labour and Cultural Change (Manchester U.P., 2003)

S. Fielding, P. Thomson and N. Tiratsoo, England Arise! The Labour Party and Popular Politics in 1940s Britain (Manchester U.P., 1995)

M. Kinnear, The British Voter: An Atlas and Survey since 1885 (Cornell U.P., 1968)

D. Marquand, Ramsay MacDonald (Cape, 1977)

H. Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections, 1885-1910 (Macmillan, 1967)

J. Ramsden, The Age of Balfour and Baldwin, 1902-40 (Longman, 1978)

J. Ramsden, The Age of Churchill and Eden, 1940-1957 (Longman, 1995)

J. Ramsden, The Winds of Change: Macmillan to Heath, 1957-75 (Longman, 1996)

R. C. Self, Neville Chamberlain (Ashgate, 2006)

D. Tanner, Political Change and the Labour Party 1900-1918 (Cambridge U.P., 1990)

A. Thorpe, The British General Election of 1931 (Oxford U.P., 1991)

A. Thorpe, The British Communist Party and Moscow, 1920-1943 (Manchester U.P., 2000)

A. Thorpe, A History of the British Labour Party (3rd edn., Palgrave, 2008)

J. Tomlinson, Democratic Socialism and Economic Policy: The Attlee Years, 1945-1951(Cambridge U.P., 1997)

R. Toye, The Labour Party and the Planned Economy, 1931-1951 (Royal Historical Society, 2003)

P. Williamson, Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

M. Worley, Labour Inside the Gate: A History of the British Labour Party between the Wars (I. B. Tauris, 2005)

J. M. Robertson, Mr Lloyd George and Liberalism (Chapman and Dodd, 1923) Baldwin Papers: A Conservative Statesman, 1908-1947, ed. P. Williamson and E. Baldwin (Cambridge U.P., 2004)

The Political Diaries of Hugh Dalton, 1918-40, 1945-60, ed. B. Pimlott (Cape, 1986)

S. Baldwin, On England : And Other Addresses (Allan, 1926)

O. Mosley, My Life (Nelson, 1968) Cato, Guilty Men (Gollancz, 1940)

Lord Butler, The Art of the Possible (Hamilton, 1971)

The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman, ed. J. Morgan (Hamish Hamilton, 1981)

P. Foot, The Politics of Harold Wilson (Penguin, 1968)

T. Benn, Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 (Hutchinson, 1989)

M. Thatcher, The Path to Power (Harper Collins, 1995)

House of Commons Debates [Hansard] Times Digital Archive Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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Available as distance learning?