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The University of Southampton

HIST3240 Society and Politics in Victorian Britain Part 1

Module Overview

In this module we will examine the principal themes of the political and social history of Britain during the Victorian Era (c.1830-1900). This period witnessed the building of one of the worlds 'greatest' empires. We will examine how Britain developed from a rural society into a leading industrial nation and the development of the modern state and new forms of political participation. This was a period that witnessed the rise and political dominance of liberalism in Britain and we will consider why, how and with what results this political evolution shaped Britain’s domestic politics.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Key political developments in Victorian Britain.
  • Roots of modern democracy
  • Opportunities for political participation in Victorian Britain.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse critically primary source materials from the period.
  • Discuss and present ideas about both primary evidence and historical interpretations clearly and persuasively in written work.
  • Crtique and contextualise primary source material in a form appropriate for the ‘gobbet’ assignment.
  • Reflect critically on the historiography of Victorian Britain and 19th century politics.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work effectively to locate sources and literature.
  • Develop time management skills.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Undertake research using archival material for essays and gobbets.
  • Understand the context of how documentation was produced and how it might be located.
  • Assess the different categories of evidence and the different approaches of historians and other scholars.


A range of indicative themes may include: Chartism, Women and Political Representation, Liberalism and Conservatism, The Great Reform Act, Poverty and Poor Relief, Philanthropy, communications.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered through small group seminars and individual tutorials. The Special Subject is deeply rooted in rich archival resources and we will be making extensive use of the extensive holdings of nineteenth century political papers in the Archives and Special Collections of the Hartley Library.

Guided independent study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

H. Pelling (1979). Popular Politics and Society in Victorian Britain. 

C. Hall, et al.,  (2000). Defining the Victorian Nation. 

G. Marsden (1998). Victorian Values. 

T. Hoppen (1998). The Mid-Victorian Generation 1846-1886. 

W. D. Rubinstein (1998). Britain's Century. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Timed Assignment  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment tasks 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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