Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Crime, Riot and Morality in Wales 1750-1850
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 18 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%
Semester Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment (Resit) 2,500 word written essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment (Resit) 2,500 word written essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the secondary source material and the ongoing debates in the study of crime and riot in Wales in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
2. Critically analyze primary sources from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including newspaper reports and crime records.
3. Evaluate the historical evidence relating to crime and riot in a balanced manner in order to produce coherent written arguments.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the historiographical developments relating to ‘history from below’ and the influence of the Marxist historians who developed this approach.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary attitudes towards issues of morality and the use of community justice.


This module gives students the opportunity to explore the themes of crime, riot and unrest in Wales in this period within the context of the rich secondary literature available in this field. It introduces students to some of the debates, issues and problems which arise for historians researching in these areas. This will broaden the range of choice available to English-medium students of Welsh history and to those studying on the medieval and early modern degree scheme, as well as history students more broadly.

Brief description

This module concentrates on the period between the Methodist Revival and the Treachery of the Blue Books, two significant developments in the history of Wales and the formation of modern Welsh identity. It has been suggested that part of the response to the Blue Books was the creation of an image of Wales as ‘the land of white gloves’ untainted by lawlessness and immorality. Yet historians have also identified riotous and violent elements which co-existed side by side with the moralizing influence of the Revival and the growth of Nonconformity. The aim of this module is to investigate these conflicting sides of Welsh society and to explore the attitudes of the population in general to crime and immorality, along with some of the causes of riot and unrest in the period. Students will be introduced to some of the ongoing historical debates relating to these themes, such as the discussion of whether or not eighteenth-century society was inherently violent and the extent to which protests such as food riots arose out of notions of social justice and the moral economy of the crowd.


1. Introduction
2. Morality, paternalism and the leaders of society
3. Religion and moral standards
4. The ‘Bloody Code’ and social control
5. Maintaining order
6. Crime and punishment
7. Punishment: alternatives to the death penalty
8. ‘Social’ crime: crime as protest?
9. A violent society? : life, death and recreation
10. ‘Rough justice’?: community justice and morality
11. Riot and protest in the eighteenth century
12. The 1790s: a revolutionary decade?
13. Rural unrest in the early nineteenth century
14. Industrial unrest in the early nineteenth century
15. The 1830s and the Merthyr Rising
16. Chartism and the Newport Rising of 1839
17. ‘And they blessed Rebecca’?
18. The ‘Treachery’ of the Blue Books

1. The gentry, paternalism and the ‘bloody code’
2. Crime, punishment and society: capital offences
3. Crime, punishment and society: public execution
4. The tradition of riot in the eighteenth century
5. The early nineteenth century: rural unrest and Rebecca
6. The early nineteenth century: industrial unrest

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop knowledge of sources and historical literature relating to the study of crime and riot.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6