The British Army and Society since 1660 - HI427

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
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4 30 (15) DR T Bowman







This module will examine various aspects of the British army since its formation in 1660. The term 'Army and Society' has been used in the title of the module to emphasise that the central focus of this module will be a 'new military history' of the British army in this period. Thus the focus will be on how the army was recruited, the composition of the officer corps (pre and post purchase), the political interventions made by the army and the role of the army in shaping the British state. The module will include thematic studies of central issues such as the composition of the officer corps, the politics of the army and the survival of the regimental system which need to be placed in a long chronological pattern.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Weeks and one week per term that will be dedicated to coursework feedback.

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

Essay 1 (2500 words) - 12%
Essay 2 (2500 words) - 12%
Seminar Participation - 8%
Exam Preparation Essay (800 words) - 8%
Examination (2 hours) - 60%

Indicative reading

I. F. W. Beckett, The amateur military tradition, 1558-1945
David Chandler and Ian Beckett (eds.), The Oxford History of the British Army
John Childs, The Army of Charles II
J. E. Cookson, The British Armed Nation, 1793-1815
David French, Military Identities: The Regimental system, the British army and the British people, c. 1870-2000
David French, Raising Churchill's Army
David French, Army, Empire and Cold War: The British Army and Military policy 1945-71
A. J. Guy, Oeconomy and Discipline: Officership and administration in the British army 1714-63
Peter Simkins, Kitchener's Army: The Raising of the New Armies, 1914-16
Hew Strachan, The Politics of the British Army
E. M. Spiers, Army and Society, 1815-1914
E. M. Spiers, The Late Victorian Army, 1868-1902

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- To provide students with the skills needed to understand, evaluate, contextualise and communicate effectively their knowledge of history.
- To provide students with an understanding of the British army in this period. In particular; the social and political groups which provided its officer corps and other ranks, its role in politics and its role in shaping the British state.
- To expose students to the disciplines of political, social and economic history and their various methodological approaches.
- To test and improve skills appropriate to level 4 students by setting them specific, differentiated tasks.
- Students will learn how to access a range of sources of information and present the results.
- Students will acquire skills of conceptualisation, reflexivity, critical thought and epistemological awareness.
- Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of the past and particular aspects of the historiography and methodology, assisting them in other courses.
- To develop a critical understanding of different historical approaches and degrees of bias as well as of the methodological complexities in the historical record itself.

The intended generic learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- To further develop analytical and reflective skills and the ability to express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
- To further develop communication, presentation and information technology skills.

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