Special Subject: Domesticity and its Discontents: Women in Post-War Britain (V1348)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn and spring teaching

This module explores the history of women in Britain from the end of the Second World War to the rise of Second Wave Feminism, with a particular focus on the 1950s. The fifties have been associated with the 'new look' in fashion, a movement back into the home and the efflorescence of women's and girls' magazines. Recent historiography, however, points to more complex social and economic experiences: the period is increasingly seen as one of contradiction and instability. Historians are beginning to ask new questions about femininity, desire and representation in the period, and there is a wealth of comparatively unexplored source material available allowing ample opportunities for original essay and dissertation research.

This module will cover a number of topics including girlhood, sexuality, prostitution, crime, migration, motherhood, employment, domesticity, politics and pleasure, locating these within the wider context of post-war British history.

You will be introduced to a range of source material including social surveys, film, parliamentary papers, magazines, oral history, autobiographies and the Mass Observation Archive, and will be instructed in the use of these sources.

The module aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to a historical understanding of the complex social position of women in the period, the broader context of postwar Britain and the nature of historical representation and change. Our key focus is upon the ways in which historians set about interpreting and understanding the past. What kinds of 'evidence' do they use, and what are the problems involved in using these various kinds of evidence?


100%: Seminar


60%: Coursework (Essay)
40%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 48 hours of contact time and 252 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2017/18. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: