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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3315 Citizens of the World: British Merchants in the Long Eighteenth Century

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Pete Maw
Email: TBC

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will allow students to investigate the diverse worlds of British merchants during "the merchants' century", exploring the key changes in British business, society and culture from the merchants' point of view. Drawing on a range of primary sources, the module will investigate British merchants' global commodity trades and networks in the long eighteenth century, as well as their trades in African slaves and English and Irish convicts. The module will focus on the challenges faced by established mercantile elites in London and the outports by the rise of 'new' groups of merchants in inland industrial towns, such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The module will conclude by taking a close look at the legacies of the "merchants' century": merchants' contributions to British politics and political culture; their roles in the City of London's establishment at the expense of Amsterdam as the world's leading financial centre; their investments in country houses, art, and conspicuous consumption; and their roles in the rise of industrial capitalism at the close of the eighteenth century.


1. To examine key themes and concepts relevant to the history of British merchants in the eighteenth century
2. To analyse the broad scope of British merchants' global trades in commodities and people
3. To analyse the contribution of merchants to Britain's growing financial and industrial strength in the eighteenth century
4. To explore the legacies created by eighteenth-century British merchants, especially in regards to British politics, society, and culture
5. To analyse British mercantile history using a broad range of primary sources

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:
1. A critical understanding of the major approaches used by historians to study eighteenth-century British trade and merchants
2. A broad knowledge of the trade practices of merchants in the long eighteenth century and their wider links to the British economy and society
3. A sophisticated understanding of the key legacies of the "merchants' century"
4. A proficiency in the use primary sources to study the history of British merchants in the eighteenth century


1. The merchants' century?
2. It's who you know: Merchants and their local and global networks
3. Merchants, capital and credit
4. Buying and selling: Merchants and specialisation
5. Self-made men? Merchants and their origins
6. The slave trade
7. Punishment: The trade in convicts to the Atlantic colonies
8. The West Indies: The sugar and spices
9. Colonial North America: Tobacco and rice
10. Asia: oriental luxuries and the rise of a British consumer society
11. The Baltic trade and North-West Europe: raw materials and British industry
12. The Mediterranean and the Near East
13. The rise of the Latin American trade
14. Inland trade and retailing
15. London: The emporium of global trade
16. Merchant corporations in the eighteenth century
17. Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and Hull: the outports in the eighteenth century
18. A new generation? Merchants and manufacturers
19. Old Money: Merchants, land and politics
20. New Money: Merchants and the financial revolution
21. New Wealth: Merchants and the industrial revolution
22. The decline of the eighteenth-century merchant

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Undertaking set reading for seminars; wider, student-directed reading for weekly classes, researching, preparing and completing two written assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, feedback on written works, tutorials with the module leader.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportEvaluation of primary source material10.00
Essay1 x 4,000-word essay, due by 12.00pm on Monday of examination week 2, semester 140.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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