History 3331 — Fall 2012 
G. Shanafelt

Modern Britain

Books (available in the bookstore)

Lacey Baldwin Smith, English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable
Allan Massie, The Royal Stuarts
William Rosen, The Most Powerful Idea in the World
Niall Ferguson, Empire
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

Goals and Objectives

Traditionally, when Americans study nations in Europe, the nation they study first is Britain. There are obvious reasons for this, even after Britain has lost its world role and most of its empire. The United States began as a group of English colonies. Much of our culture today reflects that origin, even in Texas. More specifically, those studying political science and law look to Britain for the roots of the American legal system; and English literature makes a lot more sense when Shakespeare or Wordsworth can be put in their historical context. Studying the history of Britain is thus an endeavor with obvious rewards.

This course will briefly look at the history of modern Britain, emphasizing the major trends and personalities of the last 500 years and how they contributed to the state that is Britain today. You will expected to understand

1. The basic geography and demography of the British isles.
2. The rise of Parliament and the development of constitutional monarchy.
3. The rise and decline of the British Empire.
4. The Industrial Revolution and the advent of industrial society.
5. The evolution of the 20th century welfare state.

Reading Assignments

The reading assignments should be completed on the week assigned to make possible full comprehension of the lectures or participation in class discussion.


While this course involves no specific policy for missing class in terms of points taken from your grade for unexcused absences, there is generally a direct correlation between regularity of class attendance and comprehension of the material. You’re responsible for the information covered in class whether you’re physically present to hear it or not. In the case of excessive absences, the instructor has the option of administratively dropping you from the course.


There will be a total of three tests during the semester. The final exam will simply be the third test; it will be non-comprehensive.


The high standards of literacy expected of students in history classes at McMurry subsume written expression as well as reading ability. Thus you will be expected to compose two 4-5 page typed, double-spaced papers, the first based on Massie’s The Royal Stuarts and the second on Rosen’s The Most Powerful Idea in the World. The specifics will be explained later in the semester.


The final grade will be computed as follows: 20% for each of the two midterms, 20% for each paper, and 20% for the final exam. The grade scale will be A: 90 to 100, B: 80 to 89, C: 70 to 79, D: 60 to 69, F: 59 and below. Within those parameters, plus and minus grades will be given: A: 93-100, A-: 90-92, B+: 87-89, B: 83-86, B-: 80-82, etc. There will be no A+ grades and no plus or minus grades for an F. Borderline cases (e.g., 89.6 or 79.8) will be decided on the basis of improvement in the course, class participation, and regularity of attendance. Note that to get credit for this course in your major, as with all courses in all majors, you’ll need a final grade of a C or better. A final grade of C- is not considered adequate for this course to count toward your major requirements.

Students with Disabilities

McMurry University abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no otherwise qualified student shall be denied the benefits of an education “solely by reason of a handicap.” If you have a documented disability that may impact your performance in this class and for which you may be requesting accommodation, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Services Office, located in Old Main Room 102. Arrangements will be made for students needing special accommodations.

State Board of Educator Certification Standards for Teacher Education Candidates
If you plan to minor in Curriculum and Instruction, with a teaching concentration in History 8-12, or in Social Studies 8-12, this course provides partial fulfillment of the following standard of the TEKS competencies:

Standard IV. History: The social studies teacher applies knowledge of significant historical events and developments, as well as of multiple historical interpretations and ideas, in order to facilitate student understanding of relationships between the past, the present, and the future.

Proposed Reading and Lecture Schedule

Aug. 28
Aug. 30

Historical Background — I

Smith, 1-38, 191-210

Sept. 4
Sept. 6

Historical Background — II
The First Tudor

Smith, 39-51, 210-213
Massie, 1-102

Sept. 11
Sept. 13

Henry VIII
The Reformation after Henry

Smith, 51-58, 213-217
Massie, 103-143

Sept. 18
Sept. 20

The Virgin Queen
The Road to the Civil War

Smith, 58-71, 217-221
Massie, 144-225

Sept. 25
Sept. 27

From Revolution to Restoration
The Glorious Revolution

Smith, 71-98, 221-227
Massie, 225-294, 321-327

Oct. 2
Oct. 4

First Test
Four Georges: The Hanoverians

Smith, 99-103, 228-234

Oct. 9

Paper on Massie due


Oct. 9
Oct. 11

The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire
The Industrial Revolution and the Condition of England

Smith, 104-120
Ferguson, ix-xxvi, 1-83
Rosen, xiii-xxv, 22-74, 90-114

Oct. 16
Oct. 18

The Age of Reform
Top of the Greasy Pole — I

Smith, 120-142, 234-237
Rosen, 135-247, 288-324

Oct. 23
Oct. 25

Top of the Greasy Pole — II
Ireland: The Great Failure


Oct. 30
Nov. 1

The Rise of the Second British Empire
Socialism, British Style

Smith, 142-147
Ferguson, 83-244

Nov. 6
Nov. 8

Second Test
Edwardian Britain

Smith, 148-153, 237

Nov. 13

Paper on Rosen due


Nov. 13
Nov. 15

The Great War
The Locust Years

Smith, 154-163
Ferguson, 245-290
Orwell, 5-118

Nov 20
Nov. 22

Their Finest Hour
[Thanksgiving — no class]

Smith, 163-167, 237-241
Orwell, 121-232

Nov. 27
Nov. 29

The Welfare State
The End of the Empire

Smith, 167-175
Ferguson, 290-317

Dec. 4
Dec. 6

Contemporary Britain

Smith, 177-189, 243-244

Dec. 11

Third Test (8:00 - 10:00)