BA History and German

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
From National Crisis to National Government: British Politics, Economy and Society, 1914 - 1939

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST31282
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


From National Crisis to National Government explores the trajectory of Britain's political, economic, and social development during the First World War and the inter-war period. While the general expectation of the early 1920s was that pre-war conditions in Britain would be quickly re-established, the reality was very much different. Britain found herself facing severe challenges, including prolonged unemployment, industrial unrest, and the impact of a cataclysmic global slump. The aim of this module is to explore what lay behind these events, and examine various aspects of Britain’s economic and political transformation in the early part of the twentieth century. The focus of the module is quite broad, covering the economic and social impact of industrialised warfare, industrial conflicts and civil liberties, the political and financial crisis of 1931, the social and cultural impact of mass unemployment associated with the onset of industrial decline, and the rise of political extremism. This module will appeal to students who are interested in twentieth century economic, social, and political history, as well as those who wish to explore ideas and topics connected with the broad themes of political economy.


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


  1. Introduce students to a broad range of relevant themes and historiographical debates associated with the economic and social history of inter-war Britain.
  2. Introduce students to critical concepts relating to the study of economic history and social history.
  3. Encourage students to adopt a critical perspective to their own understanding of British economic, social, and political history.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to;

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a familiarity with the major historiographical texts/debates relating to the economic, social and political history of Britain over the period 1914 to 1939.
  • Articulate and compare key themes related to the study on inter-war economic and political thought.
  • Assess and interpret a range of primary material, and relate these materials to historiographical debates to build sophisticated arguments.

Intellectual skills

  • Engaged with historiographical debates at an advanced level.
  • Locate, retrieve, assimilate and interpret relevant information and theory from primary and secondary sources.
  • Investigate and synthesise the secondary scholarship on specific historical phenomena and deliver persuasive interpretations in both written and oral forms.

Practical skills

  • Plan and execute independent research using a variety of sources including books, journals, electronic databases, and online collections
  • Deploy primary sources effectively to engage with historiographical debates, and understand how such material can be used to challenge historical opinions.
  • Formulate and communicate (in written or oral form) rigorous and convincing synthesis of their historical investigations.
  • Constructively contribute to large and small group discussions.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • The critical appraisal of primary and secondary material through individual research will develop critical thinking skills required in a range of professional contexts.
  • Group work will advance students’ interpersonal and communication skills in a professional context.
  • Students will gain confidence and competence in presenting information and research orally to an audience of peers, expressing themselves clearly and effectively and effectively and responding to questions. Such skills are important for performing well in a professional context.
  • Students will learn to respond sensitively and intelligently to feedback. Through this, students will get an opportunity to reflect upon their own practise, become aware of how to develop and articulate their understanding of concepts, and improve their work and approach in response to instruction and suggestions.  

Employability skills

The content, knowledge and intellectual skills acquired in this course will prepare students for employment in fields that demand an appreciation of the relationship between politics and economics, and how political decisions affect economic outcomes. Students wishing to pursue careers in policy-making, law, journalism, politics, and civil service may find this course particularly valuable.

Assessment methods

Encyclopaedia Entry 20%
Research Essay 1 40%
Research Essay 2 40%

Feedback methods

Formative: Oral feedback on group presentation and in seminar discussions.

Formative and Summative: Written feedback on all coursework. In line with History assessment policy, all written feedback will incorporate ‘feed forward’ advice on improving future assessment performance.

Formative: Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

Backhouse, Roger & Radley Bateman. Capitalist Revolutionary: John Maynard Keynes (Harvard University Press, 2011).

Copsey, Nigel & Andrzej Olechnowicz (eds.) Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period (Palgrave, 2010).

Kent, Susan Kingsley. Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918 – 1931 (Palgrave, 2009).

Howell, David. MacDonald's Party: Labour Identities and Crisis, 1922 – 1931 (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Laybourn, Keith. Britain on the Breadline: A Social and Political History of Britain, 1918 – 1939 (Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1990).

Lloyd-Jones, Roger & M.J. Lewis. Arming the Western Front: War, Business and the State in Britain, 1900 – 1920 (Routledge, 2016).

Overy, Richard. The Morbid Age: Britain Between the Wars (Allen Lane, 2009).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Godden Unit coordinator

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