British Maritime Ascendancy 1700-1950 (HISM330)

StaffHelen Doe - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF LevelM
Pre-requisitesThose of entry to the MA programme
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module examines Britain as a commercial and imperial power from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Its central aim is to account for Britain’s dominant position in the world maritime economy before that position was undermined by technological change. It establishes the framework of conscious exploration and enterprise before examining thematically the industrial, political, professional, commercial, social and ideological elements of Britain’s maritime ascendency. It aims to reveal how, despite changing attitudes, these elements brought Britain’s to an imperial zenith, and how, despite the attrition of war, some of these elements persisted into the mid twentieth century to maintain the appearance of a maritime economic power.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. From the basis of detailed knowledge of the economic elements of Britain’s place in the maritime world, students completing this module should have the ability to analyse and comment upon historical debates relating to Britain’s place in the maritime economy of the world, and the contribution made by her shipping and colonies to Britain’s own economic development.
  • 2. They should have a knowledge of primary and secondary sources and the ability to evaluate their historical utility.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Students should demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 4. 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. 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 Expansion of Commerce 
2. The Entrepreneurial Spirit (1) Exploration in the Pacific
3. The Entrepreneurial Spirit (2) Privateering and Smuggling
4.. Ship Owner challenges 
5. Manpower and Welfare Changes 
6. Shipbuilding and Ancillary Businesses 
7. Women in the shipping Economy 
8. The Rise of the Great Port
9. Technological and Business Change: The Rise of the Shipping Company 
10. Competition, Cooperation and Worldwide Networks
11. The Impact of War and Globalisation

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
SLT222 hour seminar per week: Weekly two-hour seminar focussed on a set theme. Students will be required to undertake preparatory reading of primary and secondary materials. Individual and group presentations will serve as the basis for discussion guided by the module tutor. Essays will be assigned, discussed and returned in individual tutorials.
GIS278private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
seminar presentations

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 1625000
Essay 2383000

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Broeze, Frank, The Globalisation of the Oceans Containerisation from the 1950s to present (St Johns, Newfoundland Research in Maritime History no 23, 2002)
Davis, R., The Rise of the English Shipping Industry in 17th and 18th centuries (Newton Abbot, 1962).
Duffy, M. et al (eds), A New Maritime History of Devon, Vol. II: From the Late Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (London, 1994).
Jackson, G., The History and Archaeology of Ports (World's Work, 1983).
Jamieson, A.G., Ebb Tide in the British Maritime Industries: Change and adaptation, 1918-1990 (Exeter, 2003). 
Milne, G.J., Trade and Traders in Mid-Victorian Liverpool: Mercantile Business and the Making of a World Port (Liverpool U.P., 2000).
Ville, S.P., English Shipowning during the Industrial Revolution. Michael Henley and Son, London Shipowners, 1770-1830 (Manchester U.P, 1987)
Palmer, S., Politics, Shipping and the Repeal of the Navigation Laws (Manchester U.P., 1990)
Rediker, M., Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Merchant Seamen, pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (Cambridge U.P. 1987)
Starkey, D.J., & G. Harlaftis, eds., Global Markets: the internationalisation of the sea transport industries since 1850 (International Maritime Economic History Association, 1998)
Starkey D.J., & A.J. Jamieson, eds., Exploiting the Sea. Aspects of Britain’s Maritime Economy since 1870 (Exeter U.P, 1998)
Ville, S.P., English Shipowning during the Industrial Revolution. Michael Henley and Son, London Shipowners, 1770-1830 (Manchester U.P, 1987)


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