It used to be said that the sun never set on the British Empire.  Did you know that at its height, Britain had the largest empire in history? How did Britain become the foremost global power for over a century?  What impact did this have on British culture?  From the defeat of Napoleon and the rise of Imperialism to the World Wars and beyond, students in the course will be exposed to Britain’s dramatic past and what this means for her future.

This course introduces students to the main themes of British social history from the Napoleonic Wars to the end of the twentieth century, a period that witnessed the gradual acquisition and rapid dissolution of a global economic and political empire, underwritten by the world’s largest navy. Through seminars, lectures and site visits, students will examine the ways in which Britain’s global rise and fall affected the politics, culture and day to day lives of ordinary Britons. The course concentrates on the empire and national identity, the industrial revolution and the making of the British working class, the struggle for women’s suffrage, the impact of the first and Second World War, and the impact of decolonization on British society and Britain’s status in the world.



  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Palace of Westminster
  • Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum



 British History 1815 to Present 

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