Sport in Modern Britain: A Cultural and Social History - HIST4390

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module explores the emergence of contemporary forms of sport through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The shifting forms and functions of sport will be studied and these will be related to changes to broader social and cultural transformations in British society. The tension that existed for much of this period between the amateur and the professional will be investigated as will the growing commercialisation of the sports industry. Students will learn about the diversity of sporting traditions across British history and examine how they were shaped by wider forces such as work, class and gender. To this end, the focus will fall not only on what are perceived to be the national winter and summer games of football and cricket but also on a range of other sports, such as rugby, netball, boxing, tennis, rowing and athletics.


Contact hours

- 10 one hour lectures – these will provide an overview of each week's topic
- 10 one hour seminars – in-depth investigation into a range of secondary and primary texts.

There will be one study week and one individual essay feedback tutorial.

Independent learning (130 hours total) – reading a range of primary and secondary material.

Method of assessment

50% Coursework, 50% Examination

1 presentation (10 minutes)
2 essays of 1,500 words

One 2-hour examination, comprising standard essay questions

Indicative reading

Birley, Derek, (1988) Sport and the Making of Britain. Manchester: Manchester University Press
Collins, Tony, (2006) A Social History of English Rugby Union. London: Routledge
Hill, Jeffrey, (2002) Sport, Leisure and Culture in Twentieth Century Britain. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Holt, Richard, (1989) Sport and the British: A Modern History. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Huggins, Mike, (2004) Victorians and Sport. London: Bloomsbury
Mason, Tony, (1989) Sport in Britain: A Social History. Cambridge:
Mason, Tony, and Holt, Richard (eds.), (2000) Sport in Britain: 1945-2000. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell
Tranter, Neil, (2010) Sport, Economy and Society in Britain 1750-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Access a range of sources of historical information and present the results in accordance with the conventions of the subject discipline.
- Understand, evaluate, contextualise and communicate effectively their knowledge of the history of the topic.
- Assess the role of sport in shaping individual, institutional and national identity in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain.
- Place sport in the wider context of the changing political, social and cultural landscape of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
- Work independently, developing their research and time management skills.
- Interact effectively with others and respond to peer questioning.
- Question critically conflicting evidence and in the process develop their problem-solving skills.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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