Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
America and Britain During the Great Depression
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 50 minute seminars
Seminars / Tutorials Individual 10-minute 'feedback tutorial' per written assignment submitted


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  70%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour supplementary (resit) examination  70%

Brief description

The Great Depression of the interwar period was one of the defining features of the twentieth century and a period of major change throughout the developed world. This module considers the far-reaching consequences through a comparative study of America and Britain and, in particular, the various problems that caused such economic dislocation, the extent and nature of unemployment, and the responses of governments and others to the problems that scarred these 'low, dishonest' decades.

In addition, the module takes a view 'from below' and considers the experience of unemployment and poverty through a study of the voices of the unemployed and the poor. It considers the various social and political responses to the Depression, including fascism, communism, migration and emigration, but also the impact of the Depression on such things as social relations, the labour movement, the arts, and so on. Historians continue to be divided over these various phenomena and we will consider the historiographical divisions and differences that have characterised work on the interwar period in the two countries. In addition, we will utilise a range of primary sources, including books, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, posters, cartoons, documentary films, speeches and popular music, to study this important period in modern history.



1. Introduction.
2. Economic depression and unemployment in Britain.
3. The Wall Street Crash.
4. Unemployment in America.
5. Documentary film on the Dust Bowl: 'The Plow That Broke the Plains'.
6. Government Responses to Unemployment.
7. The Relief of Poverty.
8. The 'New Deal' in America.
9. The 'Second New Deal'.
10. Migration and Emigration.
11. Protest.
12. Left-wing Politics.
13. Fascism.
14. Mainstream Politics in the Depression.
15. The Labour Movement.
16. Gender Relations
17. The Arts during the Depression.
18. War and Recovery.

1: The exoerience of unemployment
2: Official repsonses to unemployment and poverty
3: Critics of the governments
4: Protest or apathy?
5: Social relations during the depression


This module is at CQFW Level 4