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The University of Southampton

HIST2004 The Making of Englishness

Module Overview

This module examines changing notions of British (and, more specifically, English) national identity in relation to issues of race, ethnicity and immigration from the 1840s to the present day.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • theories of racism, 'race relations', ethnicity, immigration and the right to asylum
  • the patterns of immigration and refugee movements to the United Kingdom, and their importance, from 1841 to the present
  • the dynamics of the lives of immigrants, ethnic minorities and refugees in British society and, in particular of their internal cohesiveness and divisions
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • compare and contrast the experiences of immigrant, minority and refugee groups in terms of colour, class, origin and religion
  • explore the strengths and weaknesses of intolerance from state and society towards immigrant, ethnic/racial minority groups and refugees
  • analyse the role of politicised racism in twentieth century Britain
  • explore the nature of tolerance and toleration towards immigrant, ethnic/racial minority groups and refugees in British culture
  • analyse contemporary issues of race, racism and multi-culturalism in British Society.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • gather information and synthesise it into clear and well-written form
  • communicate effectively in group discussions
  • prepare and deliver seminar/tutorial presentations, on own and with others
  • display effective time management in planning and completing tasks set.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • research topics by using and assessing primary and secondary materials
  • compare different historical interpretations
  • compare the approaches of historians to other disciplines linked to its subject matter
  • perform electronic bibliographic and website searches


How do we define Britishness (or more often, 'Englishness')? How have identities changed over the past one hundred and fifty years? This module covers these broad questions with specific regard to questions of ‘race’, ethnicity and immigration. Although the importance of these issues in contemporary debates is very clear, this module adopts a historical approach and charts how they have developed from the mid-Victorian period onwards. It asks whether Britain is a peculiarly tolerant country in an international context. How welcoming have state and society been to newcomers? Have issues of race played a major part in British politics? Turning to the minorities themselves, the module examines their identities and internal dynamics in British society. The approach adopted is comparative, and a wide range of groups and responses to them are examined including Jews, Irish, Afro-Caribbeans, Germans, Asians and many others. It asks if ‘race’ is the most significant factor in the treatment of minorities and their own internal solidarity or whether other issues such as gender, class, age, locality and culture are of greater importance.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures, including document analysis from handouts • tutorials Learning activities include • background reading (including contemporary media) • reading and assessing the designated material for tutorial discussion • Preparing individual and group presentations for tutorials • Commenting on other students presentations • Participation in tutorial discussions • Walking tours of East End of London and of Southampton’s transmigrant past Innovative or special features of this module  walking tours of London and Southampton  The only historical module on British immigration and minority life available in a UK Higher Education Institute.

Completion of assessment task100
Preparation for scheduled sessions100
Total study time308

Resources & Reading list

John Solomos (2004). Race and Racism in Britain. 

Tony Kushner and Katharine Knox (1999). Refugees in an Age of Genocide. 

Colin Holmes (1988). John Bull’s Island. 

Paul Gilroy (1988). There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack. 

Robert Winder (2004). Bloody Foreigners. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback  1 x 2000 word essay • 2 presentations, one in team


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Written assignment 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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