Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Creative Industries in Twentieth-Century Britain
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hrs + office hours to discuss presentations, individual essay and project planning tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x source analysis (1,500 words)  1 x source analysis (1,500 words)  20%
Semester Assessment 1 x project (5000 words)  1 x project (5000 words)  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x short essay (1,500 words)  1 x short essay (1,500 words)  20%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:


The history of the creative sector in Britain in the twentieth century has generated a vast amount of historical interest. Histories range from the very general to the individual, in terms of people or artefacts. And yet much of this study conforms to one of two general approaches. Firstly the examination and privileging of individual genius, hagiographies of artists, musicians and designers abound, based around life stories in terms of influence, opportunity, fortune and determination. Secondly, studies focus on the artefact – the tune, the picture or sculpture (or installation) the clothing etc. - deconstructing this artefact for influences, meanings, impact and so on . This course will examine the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches in terms of sources and interpretation, but will also encourage students to explore wider explanations for the development of these sectors of the arts in terms of wider motivations, and broader societal and cultural contexts, and to explore the types of materials and approaches which might be of use in this more comprehensive approach. A range of sources encompassing diaries, letters, oral histories, memoirs, autobiographies and biographies will be highlighted and analysed. Students will confront the difficulties with archival materials (and advantages in some cases.) The course will not entirely abandon the idea of focussing on the artefact. Indeed we will look at a series of case studies in music, fashion and art in Britain and we will also profile the musicians, artists and designers who have been influential in shaping the creative sector in Britain.

Brief description

The module will examine the ways in which the history of creativity in Britain, in chosen sectors of the arts, has been represented in a range of histories. It will explore ways in which a more comprehensive approach might be developed, and in relation to these objectives, students will critically interrogate a range of source materials. Themes which will run through the course include the nature of artistic creativity; connections or disconnections within these fields of creativity; networks and influences crossing over between sectors (e.g. pop music, fashion and pop art in the 1960s…) and the ways these may change over time; the development of hyper-Schumpeterian innovation cycles as a model for understanding the development of creativity in context in Britain; the particular profile of the creative sectors in Britain. In engaging with all these issues students will confront a spectrum of source materials, and be encouraged to consider the value of these to the historian.


10 x 2 hour weekly seminars as follows:

1. Introduction: Constructing a View

2. The Landscape of Impressions – the art of Williams Leader and Wilson Steer.

3. Art Under the Public Gaze – the art of Moore, Gill, Hepworth and Gormley.

4. Young and Old and Young British Artists – the art of Hockney, Freud, Emin and Hirst.

5. The Road to the Coffee Bar – from Gracie Fields to Helen Shapiro

6. Marquee Dreams – the Evolution and Influence of British Blues. Understandings of the music of Mayall, Townshend and Lennon.

7. The Sound of Fashion. The Punk ambitions of Joe Strummer and Malcolm McLaren.

8. The Conservatisms of British fashion. From Haute Couture to Burtons, from Norman Hartnell to Woman’s Realm and Sirdar.

9. Dedicated Leaders of Fashion. The High Street Revolution of Quant, Hulanicki and Stephen.

10. Britain Creates a New World. The origins and impact of British creativity.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. Literary skills will be assessed through written assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given on improving students’ research techniques and essay writing skills.
Information Technology Students will be required to locate primary and secondary source materials through library and on-line sources. Students will be encouraged to word-process their assessed work.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will help develop oral and written skills. Other activities, including research, assessment of information and writing in a clear manner, will further develop useful skills of analysis and presentation.
Problem solving Students will be required to locate and assess primary source materials. Assessed through written assignments and presentations.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work. The latter will be assessed though written assignments and presentations.
Subject Specific Skills This module will help students use and assess a range of source material relevant to the period and subject, including examples of art and music as well as memoirs, diairies, letters and other documentary sources.
Team work Students will collaborate during seminar activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6