HS3T53-Political Extremism in Britain between the Wars

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Matthew Worley

Email: m.worley@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Part 3 Options involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of History. This module aims to provide and assess the character and impact of political extremism in Britain between the first and second world wars, raising the related question as to why British people remained relatively immune to the appeals of fascism and communism. The course will outline the origins, politics and organisation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF), placing them within a national and international context.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
identify and explain the main issues and events studied
acquire a detailed knowledge of the events through extensive reading in specialised literature
locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research
appraise critically the primary sources and historical interpretations of the subject
organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student's effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:
The course will begin by exploring the origins of fascism and communism in Britain, tracing the precursors of these two divergent strands of political thought and organisation. Although both came to prominence in the interwar period, their origins reside in pre-war currents of political and intellectual development. Having established this, the more immediate impact of the Great War and the Bolshevik Revolution will be considered and related to Britain's 'place' in the fundamentally different world that emerged from 1918. The formation, strategies and policies of the CPGB will then be detailed, with due recognition given to the influence of the Soviet Union on the party's organisation and political perspective, before the fascist response - and fascism was very much a response to Bolshevik socialism - will be assessed in relation to the smaller fascist groups of the 1920s and the emergence of the BUF amidst the 'crisis' of 1929-32. Again, the influence of 'foreign' models - Italy and Germany - will be explored, along with the particular policies and organisational formulas 'pioneered' by Mosley. Among the many themes covered will be: the role of the state in monitoring and shaping political extremism in Britain, common and divergent perspectives between fascists and communists, the extent to which the social, political, cultural and economic context of Britain between the wars acted as a bulwark against political extremes, and the diverse ways in which the two organisations sought to appeal to the British public.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars for which students must carry out full preparatory reading and research. Seminars rely on structured group discussion and may also include: seminar papers by students; discussion of evidence; team-based exercises and debates; study visit to a relevant location. Students are expected to carry out self-directed revision in the Summer term. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 169
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:
One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 3 examinations.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Students will write one essay of not more than 2,500 words, to be submitted electronically via Blackboard by 12 noon on the Monday of week 9 of the term. Five marks will be deducted if the coursework essay exceeds 2,625 words (ie 5% over the word limit).

Formative assessment methods:
1,000 words or 2 pages of A4 maximum to include, at the module convenor's discretion, an essay plan, bibliography, book review or other preparatory work towards the summative essay.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students who fail Part Three are permitted one further attempt at a resit in each module they have failed. Students who fail Part Three will no longer be eligible for an Honours Degree but, assuming the necessary threshold after the resit (normally an overall average of 35% or above) is achieved, students will obtain a Pass Degree. Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) ONLY in August. These will be capped at a maximum mark of 40%. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: Purchase of textbooks is not compulsory, but students should consider setting aside £25 per course to cover the purchase of useful books
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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