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Study information

Britain and the Age of Revolution, 1775-1832 (Sources)

Module titleBritain and the Age of Revolution, 1775-1832 (Sources)
Module codeHIH3042
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr James Davey ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The ‘Age of Revolution’ was a transformative period that made a deep and lasting impact on Britain’s politics, people and culture. Confronted by political radicalism, social upheaval and a series of global conflicts for national survival, Britain was forced to question long-held beliefs and uproot established traditions. This module explores this tumultuous period of British history through a series of interlinked themes, including the impact of revolutionary ideas, popular politics, lived experience, conflict, empire, and the shaping of identity and nationhood. From the American Revolution through to the Peterloo Massacre and its aftermath, we will consider the various ways the ‘Age of Revolution’ touched the lives of women and men from across the British Isles. No prior knowledge of the period or subject is required, but a familiarity with Blackadder III and Alexander Hamilton: The Musical will stand you in good stead.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Together with its co-requisite, the module will encourage you to consider ‘the age of revolution’ from multiple historical perspectives, engaging closely with a wide variety of sources documenting both the course and impact of war and revolution between 1775 and 1832. Drawing on published and translated collections as well as a growing number of online digital archives, the module will encourage students to use a wide range of source material, including letters, diaries, manuscripts, memoirs, pamphlets, government archives, diplomatic records, caricatures, prints, oil paintings, newspapers, ballads, poetry, novels, history books and other forms of material culture.

While students with reading knowledge of a foreign language can engage with digitised sources in other European languages, the source material for the course will be available in English.

Through working with the extensive primary source collections available, you will develop a range of research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be applied in further academic studies or in graduate careers.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of war and revolution during the 1775-1832 period, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied relating to war and revolution

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Analyse original sources closely and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Be able to focus on and comprehend complex texts
  • 4. Ability to understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 5. Follow the changing attitude to revolution and war across the period

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Work independently, as well as undertaking group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally

Syllabus plan

This module will allow you to engage with a wide variety of sources. Some seminars will focus on specific types of source (for example on caricature or political treatises) but most will encourage you to grapple with a range of different sources. While the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or most of the following topics:

  • The American Revolution
  • Popular protest and the mob
  • The impact of the French Revolution
  • Revolution or revolutions?
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and the Rights of Women
  • Romanticism
  • Political radicalism and the reform movement
  • Pitt’s Terror
  • Heroes and celebrity
  • Military masculinities
  • National defence and the volunteer movement
  • The naval mutinies of 1797
  • Rebellion and union with Ireland, 1796-1801
  • Slavery and abolition
  • The ‘Second British Empire’
  • Impressment
  • Napoleon in the British imagination
  • Trafalgar and the Napoleonic Wars
  • War and popular culture
  • The Peterloo Massacre
  • The road to reform

Some of you will already have studied aspects of this period, but not in great detail. The introductory sessions will therefore be important in offering a broad overview within which framework all students can place their subsequent work. The co-requisite module will also provide close focus on the historical sources available for the study of this period, so complementing this module. You will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading and evaluating the respective sources in advance, and will discuss the issues raised by them in the seminars.

The introductory sessions for this module will provide an overview of the subject and also expose you to the sources themselves. The seminars will focus on sources drawn from published and digitised resources, allowing you to develop your knowledge of the subject in conjunction with the close analysis of historiography provided in the co-requisite module, and to develop your skills in source analysis and acquisition. Some of the sources will be presented individually, others will be presented by you working in groups; and on other occasions there will be open discussion; you may also be expected to present and discuss specific sources you have found yourself from the module resources. You will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading and evaluating the relevant sources in advance, and will discuss the issues raised by them in the seminars.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided Independent Study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-6,8Oral from tutor and fellow students

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Oral and written
Individual Presentation3025 minutes1-8Oral and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period
PresentationWritten transcript of 25 minute presentation (2,500 words)1-8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 25 minutes of speech (2,500 words).

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Published Primary Sources – Indicative Examples: 

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Revolution, warfare, society, culture, Britain

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

At least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.

Module co-requisites

HIH3043: Britain and the Age of Revolution, 1775-1832: Context

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date