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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3302 Ordinary People: The Everyday Lives of Men, Women and Children in Britain, c. 1920s-50s

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Claire Martin

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How much attention has been paid to the private and everyday lives of 'ordinary' people in the past? This module will focus on the personal lives of men, women and children, in a period of dramatic social changes, from the First World War to the 1950s. It will put the perspectives of these ordinary people at the forefront, analysing their experiences, their families and friendships, their work, and their leisure time. Focusing on spaces like the pub, the factory floor, and the family kitchen, the module invites students to look at the most personal elements of people’s lives, and how they felt about them. Seminars will focus on different aspects of everyday life, from food and sex to unemployment and political activism. Throughout the module, students will engage with a wide range of source materials, from oral history interviews to private letters, television programmes to popular music. The module offers students a chance to delve into the perspectives of men, women and children in the past, and see major events such as the Second World War and the launch of television through their eyes.


This module introduces students to the history and historiography of everyday life in modern Britain, to approaches to studying the everyday in the past, and to history from below methodologies. The objective is to allow students to understand how everyday life changed (or otherwise) in the period 1920s-50s, to understand key approaches and historiographical debates, and to consider how the history of everyday life should be understood and presented by historians.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will have:
1. an understanding of key changes and continuities in people’s lives in Britain, c.1920-60
2. an understanding of and ability to interrogate the historiographies of everyday life in modern Britain
3. skills in communicating complex ideas in written and verbal forms
4. skills in handling a wide range of types of evidence and evaluating different approaches to history
5. confidence in using concepts such as gender, class, race and age to understand diversity and similarities in the experiences of men, women, and children


This course will be split into three parts:
1) Introduction and chronology of the period. This part of the course will be delivered in the first weeks of semester 1, and introduce students to some of the key events and developments in the history of Britain from the end of the First World War to the 1950s. Seminar topics will include subjects like the mass unemployment, the rise of the mass media, the experience of the Second World War, and the welfare state.
2) The second part of the course will focus on different aspects of everyday life in Britain. Seminar topics will include subjects like the workplace, school, sports, drinking culture, food, sex, neighbourhood communities, the home, family life, clothing, and the like.
3) The third and final part of this course will examine key historiographical trends in researching and writing about everyday life, from the history from below movement to the recent turn back to material and spatial culture. Seminar topics will include subjects like the History Workshop Movement, Black history and the history of emotions. This will allow for reviewing back over the previous seminars and tracing key elements of change and continuity over the period of study.

The course will be delivered by weekly two-hour seminars, plus a two-hour fieldwork trip. The location of this trip will be decided in consultation with students early in semester 1 and will take place in semester 2.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Each week, students will be given set reading and additional reading, with a combination of primary and secondary material. Additionally to this, students will be expected to read widely around key subjects for the module, following their interests (and in tandem with their dissertation). Additional study and reading will be expected for the three assessments for the module.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be offered an appointment in each semester to discuss their contribution to the seminars and to reflect on progress. Seminars will be led by class discussion, and so students will be continually monitored through the year.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 word essay due by 12 noon Monday, Exam Week 2, semester 140.00
Presentation10 minute class presentation, to be delivered between semester 1 weeks 6 and semester 2 week 6 as dirceted by tutor10.00
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
Unseen exam 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: 20/09/2019


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