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The University of Southampton

HIST3241 Society and Politics in Victorian Britain Part 2

Module Overview

Whereas in part 1 of the module you focused on domestic policies in Victorian Britain, in part 2 we turn our attention to Britain's role in the wider world. We will consider the foreign policies of successive governments and the differences between Liberal and Tory approaches. You will be asked to look at British foreign policy close to home (Ireland), as well as involvement in nineteenth century conflicts and the establishment and maintenance of Empire. We will look at concepts such as nationhood, nationalism and identity in a British context and explore nineteenth century international relations.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Key historiographical and conceptual approaches to examining Victorian Britain's place in the world.
  • The concept of nationalism in a British context.
  • Using primary sources from the Archives and Special Collections at the Hartley Library for examining foreign policies in Victorian Britain.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the contentious topic of Britain's maintenance of its global Empire in the Victorian period.
  • Understand the foundations for Britain's perception of the world and perceptions of Britain from other powers.
  • Identify and examine the roles of conflict and diplomacy in the foreign policy of Victorian Britain.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse primary sources.
  • 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:

  • Research and write effectively in order to produce essays.
  • Understand the context of documentation and how it might be located.
  • Weigh different categories of evidence and the different approaches of historians and other scholars.


Indicative seminar topics include: - Britain and the Crimean War - Policies towards Ireland - Britain and India - Australia Thematic topics may include: - humanitarianism - nationalism - power relations - gender and race - exploration - knowledge development.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: presentations by students on secondary reading and primary sources; small and large group discussions; structured in-depth reading and analysis of the module texts Learning activities include: preparatory reading, individual research and study prior to each class; preparing and delivering short presentations relating to aspects of the module, as directed by the tutor; close study of primary sources; participation in small and large group discussion

Guided independent study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

D. Bell, et al, eds (2010). The Primacy of Foreign Policy in British History 1660-2000 How Strategic Concerns Shaped Modern Britain. 

L. James (1994). The Rise and Fall of the British Empire. 

W. Baumgart (1998). The Crimean War. 

S. Mahajan (2002). British Foreign Policy 1874-1914. 

J. Aldred (2004). British Imperial and Foreign Policy 1846-1980. 

S. MacKenzie (2001). The Victorian Vision: Inventing New Britain. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment tasks 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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