British Political History from Balfour to Blair, 1903-1997 - HIST6088

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The module will chart the evolution of what largely remains the contemporary British political landscape. It begins and ends during periods when British foreign relations considerations played an important role in internal domestic affairs. This includes the Edwardian tariff reform debate, that split the Conservative/Unionist party during the early years of the twentieth century, and origins of the most recent phase in Britain's increasingly fraught relationship with the EU, that would again split the Conservative party and result in the events of June 2016. The module examines all of the key British political figures between 1903-1997, including David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Antony Eden, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. It examines how the role of prime minister changed over this period, likewise the role of the Cabinet and other cognate constitutional issues. The module examines the ways in which labels such as Liberal and Tory changed over the period, as well as important developments such as the evolution of the politics of consensus and the role played by coalition government in British political history. A further major theme will be how British domestic politics were influenced by wider international economic and security questions, such as the impact of the two world wars and the Cold War.


Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Week and one week that will be dedicated to coursework feedback.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (2,500 words) 20%
Essay 2 (2,500 words) 20%
Presentation 10%
Document Commentary (1,000 words) 10%
Examination (2 hours) 40%

Reassessment methods:
100% Coursework.

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages (

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the political history of Britain from the formation of the Conservative government under Arthur Balfour in 1903, until the advent of New Labour under Tony Blair in 1997, and the ways in which intervening events were shaped by domestic social, economic and by international factors.
2 Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of advanced concepts in the extensive historiography relating to how party labels evolved and changed over time, as well as what motivated these changes.
3 Demonstrate an advanced capability to understand the nature and reason for political changes during the period, 1903-1997, including the impact of the two world wars on British politics, the evolution of the welfare state, Britain's changing role in world affairs and Britain's membership of what is now the EU.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Work with a moderate level of independence to research and develop their understanding of questions and issues.
2 Demonstrate an ability to provide persuasive written and verbal presentations, including the use of a range of primary source materials and historiographical content.
3 Research and integrate primary sources into written and verbal assessments.
4 Apply their knowledge and skills to the production of a range of different outputs.


  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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