Special Subject: Britain and the Second World War Part B (V1346B)

15 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

This module focuses on the impact of the Second World War on British society and politics. We draw on contemporary sources throughout to illuminate historical debates, particularly the writings of ordinary people collected by Mass-Observation during the war. In Part A we explore the idea of the ‘people’s war’, examining support for appeasement in the 1930s, events such as civilian evacuation, Dunkirk and the Blitz, and changing attitudes towards gender roles as women moved into the workplace. We look at the experiences of British combatants fighting abroad and the way in which the presence of Black American soldiers at home raised questions about race in British society. We also consider those whodissented from the popular narrative of a united Britain: the workers who went on strike, the black marketeers, and the conscientious objectors. Part B examines the impact of the ‘people’s war’ on politics and reconstruction. We start with the Beveridge Report of 1942, the blueprint for the post-war welfare state, and move on to examine how an emphasis on ‘planning’ influenced a range of political and popular debates about the war economy, town planning, rural life, health, welfare and education. Finally,we explore creativity and the arts in wartime, before ending the module with a study of the 1945 general election.


100%: Seminar


50%: Coursework (Essay)
50%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 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: