BA History and Russian

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Black Britain: Power, Neighbourhoods and the Everyday, 1948-1990

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST32172
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module explores the major themes of Black British History between 1948 and 1990, such as protest, anti-racism, and migration as well as the everyday life of Black communities and neighbourhoods from around the UK. Each week, the class will venture to a new locale so that over the course of the module, we develop a full and complicated understanding of Black British History. Built into the course are three trips to archives based in the North West and Midlands, where students will delve into the history of Black communities through the words and perspectives of historical actors. Through recovering, exploring and being led by the Black voices of the neighbourhoods that we encounter, the class will build up histories of these communities according to the views of the people who lived in them. In this way, students will acquire a rich and multi-faceted understanding of the fabric of Black British History.


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


  • Introduce students to the prominent issues in the historiography surrounding Black British History, including issues of race, migration, settlement, activism, protest, gender, and community construction.
  • Develop students’ critical capacity about issues of recovering Black British perspectives, histories, voices and intellectualism.
  • Equip students with advanced archival skills through supervised searches and analyses of collections at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Centre, Liverpool Central Library and the Library of Birmingham. (You will also be introduced to and encouraged where feasible to visit other collections around the country).
  • Enable students to produce nuanced histories of Black British communities and neighbourhoods by critiquing and putting in relation to one another the sources found at archives.
  • Construct a comprehensive and complicated understanding of Britain and Black Britain in the 20th century, from the viewpoint of Black settlements based across Britain

Knowledge and understanding

Students will develop a knowledge and understanding of:

  • Britain in the 20th century and in particular histories of race, migration, the everyday, protest and archival practice.
  • Problems concerning archival silence, the politics of the archive and how historians respond to such issues.
  • The value of writing national histories that are nuanced by locality.
  • How to examine sources in relation to one another to build a picture of Black Britain.

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Engage with complex historiographical debates.
  • Search through, access and analyse archival material with ease.
  • Situate primary sources in relation to secondary literature so as to build a sophisticated understanding of historical processes.
  • Write and speak with authority on histories of race, migration, community, and Britain.

Practical skills

  • Perform close readings of primary texts and place these in relation to historiographical debates.
  • Partake in discussion concerning complex and sophisticated historical issues.
  • Perform independent research in archives.
  • Create essays based on original research and analysis

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Carry out independent research into primary and secondary material.
  • Organise and synthesise cogently a high number of source materials.
  • Produce original research outputs.
  • Debate complex and difficult histories with respect, intelligence and deftness.
  • Team work and communication skills

Employability skills

Group/team working
Team work in the form of collaborating with colleagues/classmates in seminars and in research processes.
Independent initiative and research resulting in tangible outputs in the form of assessed reports; the ability to organise and make sense of a large amount of evidence/data; close attention to detail in the form of reading intensely particular texts; the ability to think critically about salient issues in History, such as race, migration, nation, and community; complex cognitive skills in the form of thinking through a large body of information in order to devise a detailed and sophisticated arguments.

Assessment methods

Group Presentation


Primary Source Analysis OR Archival Review


Research Essay


Feedback methods

Written feedback on all assessments  


Additional one-to-one feedback in office hours or by appointment

Summative x 2

Recommended reading

Connell, Kieran, Black Handsworth: Race in 1980s Britain (Berkley: University of California Press, 2018).

Gilroy, Paul, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (London: Routledge, 1987).

Hall, Stuart, ‘ The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity’, in Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat, eds, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives, pp. 173–87.

Hammond Perry, Kennetta, London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race (Oxford: OUP, 2015).

Hirsch, Shirin, In the Shadow of Enoch Powell: Race, Locality and Resistance (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018).

Matera, Marc, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis in the Twentieth Century (Berkley: University of California Press, 2015).

Peplow, Simon, Race and Riots in Thatcher’s Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019). 8. Waters, Rob, Thinking Black: Britain, 1964 – 1985 (Berkley: University of California Press, 2018.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jack Webb Unit coordinator

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