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The University of Southampton

HIST1183 On the Ball: Sport and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain

Module Overview

This module will use sport as a lens through which to explore the history of nineteenth-century Britain. It will situate sport firmly within its wider social, cultural and political contexts. You will examine the role of sport in the making and remaking of Britain and empire as well as the ways this was challenged and resisted. You will interrogate how nineteenth-century sports were both shaped by and themselves helped to shape categories of difference including class, race, gender, and nation. Finally, you will reflect on how the legacies of this history continue to mold the world that we live in and the sports that we watch and play today.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • How sport shaped the development of modern Britain
  • The role played by sport in 'making' the British Empire
  • How sport has operated as a social and cultural process
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analysing the historiography of nineteenth century sport.
  • Examining a range of sources used by historians to research the history of sport
  • Constructing an evidence-based argument on the role that sport has played historically
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Planning and writing an analytical essay to a word limit
  • Producing a coherent analysis of the module content under time pressure


Indicative topics we may cover include: Industrialisation and the development of 'modern' sport Masculinity, muscular Christianity and Empire Sports science and racialised bodies Women and sport Adaption and resistance National identities and anxieties

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lectures Seminars Essay tutorials

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Emma Griffin (2007). Blood Sport: hunting in Britain since 1066. 

Richard Holt (1993). Sport and the British: A Modern History. 

Jean Williams (2003). A game for rough girls? A history of women's football in Britain. 

Benjamin Sacks (2019). Cricket, kirikiti and imperialism in Samoa. 

C. L. R. James (1963). Beyond a boundary. 

John Nauright and David Willins (2017). Routledge Handbook of sport, race and ethnicity. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2200 words) 50%
Exam  (1 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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