Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Media and Society in 20th Century Britain
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
a) Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of historical knowledge in the field of modern British political, social and cultural development.
b) Engage in source criticism, discussion and understanding of press, film and broadcast sources as historical evidence.
c) Demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of historical techniques relevant to the study of media history.
d) Gather and sift appropriate items of historical evidence
e) Read, analyse and reflect critically on secondary and primary texts, in particular key items of contemporary press coverage, popular newsreel and feature films, and broadcasting.
f) Explore the relationships between history and other disciplines, particularly media studies.

Brief description

This module introduces you to the history of the mass media (the newspaper press, cinema and broadcasting) in twentieth-century Britain, and to a range of issues and debates relating both to the mass media themselves and the social, cultural and political histories of Britain which they form a part. Over the course of the module, through a series of broadly chronological lectures and topic-based seminars, we will be learning about the structural development of the media over the course of the century and the impact of both technology (i.e., changing means of media production and distribution) and competition (i.e., other media) on their character and role. We will consider the relationship between media and audience and the importance of the media as providers of information, education and entertainment to the British people. We will assess the influence of the mass media on twentieth-century British social and cultural values; the function of the mass media in projecting images of national identity and national unity; and the complex interrelation between politics, the media and the electorate.


To introduce students to the history of mass media in twentieth-century Britain through a chronological and thematic approach.
To consider media as a mirror of, and an influence on, British society.
To examine the role of the media in the creation and projection of national identity.
To assess the relationship between the media and the state.


1. Introduction: history and the media
2. Birth of the 'mass media', 1896-1914
3. The media and the first world war
4. Rise of the popular press, 1918-39
5. BBC: private company to public corporation, 1922-39
6. Cinema and society, c.1918-39
7. Media and politics in inter-war Britain
8. Media and nation in inter-war Britain
9. The second world war: censorship, propaganda and morale
10. The television age: the BBC and ITV
11. Suez and after: media and politics in 1950s/60s Britain
12. Media and the 'permissive society'
13. 'The world in one's living room': television goes 'global'
14. An 'enemy within'? Broadcasting and govt, c.1970-90
15. The newspaper industry and the Wapping revolution
16. Selling politics in the 1990s
17. Deregulation
18. Britain and the 'new media'

1. Introduction
2. First World War
3. General Strike
4. 1930s cinema
5. Abdication crisis
6. Second World War
7. Suez
8. Satire boom
9. Media and government in 1980s
10. Broadcasting and public service

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
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.
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