British Naval Power in the Era of Sail 1660-1815 (HISM315)

StaffDr Roger Morriss - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesThose of entry to the MA programme
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The teaching of this module aims to make students aware of the influence exerted on the navy throughout its history of constitutional developments which gave the exercise of naval power in Britain a particular political character affecting all aspects of its operation and functioning. Students will be specially focussed on the developing strategy of British naval power which, while changing with Britain’s enemies, had features that were constantly maintained by statesmen and politicians throughout the period 1660 to 1815. Such strategic developments only became possible with experience, resources and political support. Hence this module aims to make students aware of the events, logistics and policies which determined the ability of the navy to respond to challenges. Technological as well as human aspects receive attention, and become important in discussions of tactical success and failure. Hence the teaching of this module aims to provide an analytical as well as a rounded view of Britain’s naval history that can be placed in the context of international affairs and British national life.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Naval history integrates many species of history which are usually studied separately
  • 2. completing this module will cover not only the history of actual naval operations, but important aspects of national political, social, economic, technical and medical history, among others.
  • 3. They should acquire the ability to combine these different sorts of history to assess the importance of naval warfare in the development of Britain.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. should demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 5. They should be able to identify and understand the nature of original sources. 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. 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. 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

The Dutch Wars and English Trade
The 'Glorious Revolution' and strategic developments
British Strategy and the European Empires
Command and Control, Construction and Supply
Pacific Pursuits, Exploration and Technology
Imperial Overstretch? The American War of Independence
The Navy and Society
The French Revolutionary War
Manpower and Health
The Napoleonic and American Wars.

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

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

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
essay 383000 words 1-9oral and written
essay 625000 words 1-9oral and written

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

R. Morriss, The Foundations of British Maritime Ascendancy. Resources, Logistics and the State, 1755- 1815 (Cambridge, 2011)

N.A.M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815 (London, 2004)

Richard Harding, Seapower and Naval Warfare, 1650-1830 (UCL Press, 1999)

Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (Macmillan, 2nd ed. 1983)

John B. Hattendorf et al, eds., British Naval Documents, 1204-1960 (Navy Records Society Vol.131, 1993)

Michael Duffy, The Foundations of British Naval Power, in The Military Revolution and the State 1500-1800 (Exeter UP, 1980)

Michael Duffy, ed., Parameters of British Naval Power 1650-1850 (Exeter UP, 1992)

Colin S. Gray, The Leverage of Sea Power: The Strategic Advantages of Navies in War (Free Press, 1992)

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Available as distance learning?