Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
An Age of Empire: Britain and Ireland, 1850-1914
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 words  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 words  50%
Supplementary Assessment (Resit) Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 words  50%
Supplementary Assessment (Resit) Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 words  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of a substantial body of historical knowledge relating to the formation of national identities in Britain and Ireland in the period 1800-1914.
2. Critically evaluate the formation of national identities in the four nations of the British Isles and their relationship to an overarching British identity
3. Critically evaluate the relationship between fundamental social and political change and wider social practices, and the creation of imperial identities
4. Demonstrate an understanding of a wide range of historical techniques relevant to the history of Britain and Ireland in this period


This module offers students a chronological and thematic exploration of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain and Ireland, focusing on questions relating to empire, national identity and the creation of other communal identities, and thereby it introduces them to important themes in the modern history of the United Kingdom. It is an attractive option to students on a number of degree schemes in the department.

Brief description

This module examines developments in Britain and Ireland from the mid-nineteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War in the context of imperialism. This period was the heyday of the British Empire. Britain and Ireland had been united under one government since 1801. The module explores how the communications revolution of the nineteenth century created a new context for developing a centralised, uniform British identity (e.g. by re-packaging the monarchy in an age of mass communication as an imperial institution) but it also considers how diversity flourished, with new English, Scottish, Welsh and especially Irish identities being recreated.



1. Introduction: Britain, Ireland and Empire
2. Progress and the People: Patriotism in Mid-century
3. Papers, Penny Post and Steam Trains: The Communications Revolution
4. Inventing Traditions: The Monarchy, 1850-1914
5. ‘No Popery!’: Protestantism and Anti-Catholicism in Mid-19th Century Britain
6. ‘Play Up and Play the Game!’: Sport and National Identity, c.1860-1914
7. Landscape and People: Englishness and the Victorians
8. After the Great Hunger: Ireland and the Consequences of Famine, 1850-70
9. Tartanry and the Highlands: Re-creating Scottish National Identity
10. Making a People: Wales and the ‘Nonconformist Nation’
11. Teaching the Masses: State Education, 1870-1914
12. An English Nation: Conservatism and Disraeli in the 1870s
13. Home Rule for Ireland, 1885-1900
14. ‘Ulster Will Fight!’: Irish Unionism, 1885-1914
15. ‘Wider Still and Wider’: Popular Imperialism, 1870-1914
16. Patriotism and Race: Uniformed Youth Movements, c.1889-1914
17. ‘Votes for Women!’ The Battle for Women’s Suffrage
18. Britain, Ireland and Empire on the Eve of War


1. Introductory discussion
2. Scotland and the Union
3. Monarchy
4. English identity and rural society
5. The Irish Question
6. Popular imperialism
7. Revision seminar

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
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 N/A
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