Time and Place: 1953: Monarchs and Murders (V1446)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

In 1953 the British press and public were fixated on two events unfolding in the nation’s capital.

The first was the coronation of Elizabeth II, the most extensive staging of royal spectacle in Britain during the mid-twentieth century.

The second was the discovery in a decaying Victorian house in North Kensington, of the bodies of the murdered victims of serial killer John Christie.

On this module you will explore what these two parallel events tell us about society and culture in Britain at the dawn of the ‘New Elizabethan Age’.

  • What does the coronation tell us about the extraordinary resilience of the British monarchy in the modern era?
  • How far was monarchy understood through new cultural formations, notably the rise of celebrity culture?
  • How did the fortunes of the monarchy relate to those of the aristocracy?
  • What does the coronation – the last great imperial display – suggest was the status of empire in Britain at mid-century?
  • How far did press coverage of the Christie murders reflect contemporary concerns about sexuality, race and immigration?

Primary sources for this module include popular newspapers, Mass-Observation surveys and film.


52%: Lecture
48%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 23 hours of contact time and about 127 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: