BA History and French

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
London and Modernity 1880-1960

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST30101
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course will explore key aspects of modernity in relation to the changing character of London as a metropolitan centre from the late nineteenth century to the 1960s. The aim will be to encourage students to ground historical debates about modernity, modernism, and modernisation in relation to the study of a particular environment and setting. The course will not provide a general overview of urban development in London, rather it will select key themes for detailed study. These will cover aspects of the social and economic development of the city, together with more recent research on urban cultures, historical geography, sexuality and the imperial and post-imperial metropolis. The course will provide students with the opportunity to encounter London as it is represented in a range of visual media, as well as in written texts. Students will be encouraged to develop a critical awareness of key primary and secondary sources and their use in researching aspects of metropolitan history and to examine specific thematic case studies in relation to the transformations of particular zones or quarters of the city.



Restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes (please check your programme structure for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; Euro Studies programmes; and History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas.

This module is available to students on an Erasmus programme subject to VSO approval.


  • Understand the defining features of London’s cultural, social and political modernity in the period 1880 to c. 1960 via lectures, seminar, discussion, a fieldtrip and assessment.
  • Engage with the dominant historiographical traditions in this field.

Knowledge and understanding

 On successful completion of the course students will have:

  • Become familiar with the key cultural and social features of urban modernity and their application to London as a metropolitan centre.
  • Become competent in analysing the historical forces that have shaped modern London and its peoples, with particular emphasis on the cultural and spatial dimensions of change.
  • Be able to utilize the historiography in application to key urban case studies


Intellectual skills

On successful completion of the course students will have:

  • Developed a critical awareness in the handling of primary sources on the city and how they are used to research the history of modern London.
  • Evaluated and applied a range of varied methodologies in the analysis of modern urban cultures.


Practical skills

  • Developed their analytical and presentational skills in presentations.
  • Produced informed, well-written and effectively researched pieces of academic prose.
  • Worked effectively and creatively with a range of source materials, including visual sources and recorded sound.


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present nuanced interpretations via advanced written and oral communication
  • Accomplish independent research projects
  • Develop critical thinking and analysis


Employability skills

- To convey complex ideas via written and verbal communication skills - Acting autonomously and taking leadership (through independent research, seminar preparation and contribution, assessment activities) - Critical thinking and analysis - Locating, organising and interpreting large quantities of evidence

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on coursework submissions via Turnitin, and on exam papers in hard copy


Additional one-to-one feedback (during office hours or by appointment


Students will be required to present ONE five minute paper on an essential reading, chosen from the list. Feedback will be given in the seminar and in tutorial.



Recommended reading

Booth, C. (1889-1893), Labour and Life of the People of London, Vol. 2.

Cannadine, D (1983) ‘The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the Invention of Tradition c. 1820-1977’, in E Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (eds), The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge University Press, pp. 101-64.

Forshaw, J and Abercrombie, P (1943) County of London Plan.

Jephcott, P (1964) A troubled area: notes on Notting Hill, Faber.

McKibbin, R (1998) Classes and cultures in England 1918-1951, Oxford University Press.

Mort, F (2010) Capital Affairs: London and the Making of the Permissive Society, Yale University Press. Port, M (1995) Imperial London: civil government building in London 1850-1915, Yale University Press. Ransome, A. (1907), Bohemia in London, Guild Publishing.

Walkowitz, J. (1992) City of Dreadful Delight, Chicago University Press.

Walkowitz, J. (1992) City of Dreadful Delight, Chicago University Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Frank Mort Unit coordinator

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