HS1BCB-Birth Control in modern Britain: an intellectual history

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Level:4
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof David Stack
Email: d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module studies the history of the idea of birth control in modern Britain, from the publication of Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) through to the decision in 1974 to make contraceptive advice and prescriptions available to all on the NHS, regardless of age or marital status. The module focuses on how arguments for and against the use of contraception related to broader intellectual movements - including those in religion, science, economics, and women’s rights - and how these arguments changed over time.


Aims:

The aim of the module is to demonstrate how an apparent problem of medical knowledge - the practicalities of contraception - can only be fully understood within a broader framework of cultural of intellectual ideas about birth control.


Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

•identify the sources of the topic in question

•trace its historical development

•be aware of differing historiographical interpretations of the pattern and causes of this development

•understand how ideas and events are shaped by their historical contexts

•organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed coursework

•demonstrate familiarity with bibliographical conventions and mastery of library skills.


Additional outcomes:

The module also aims:

•to encourage students to think independently 

•to help students develop good oral and written communication skills 

•to develop the effectiveness of students in group situations 

•to develop IT skills through the use of relevant resources. 


Outline content:

Starting from the publication of Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), this module traces the history of the idea of birth control in modern Britain through to the introduction of the contraceptive pill in 1961, the legalisation of abortion in 1967, and the 1974 decision to make contraceptive advice and prescriptions available to all on the NHS, regardless of age or marital status. The module is primarily concerned with how an understanding of birth control chang ed over time and how medical knowledge about contraception related to broader intellectual and cultural movements, in religion, science, economics, women’s rights, and attitudes to marriage. To explore these we will undertake a series of detailed case studies, including: Francis Place’s birth control handbills of 1823 (the first birth control propaganda produced anywhere in the world); the 1877 trial of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh for promoting knowledge of contraception; the arguments and impact of Marie Stopes’s Married Love (1918); how attitudes to abortion changed from the late-eighteenth through to the mid-twentieth century; and the arguments that surrounded the introduction of the contraceptive pill. 


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Teaching is by eight two-hour seminars over one term. Students are reminded to email their tutors for help and advice whenever needed and to note office hours.


Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16
Tutorials 10
Guided independent study: 74
       
Total hours by term 100 0 0
       
Total hours for module 100

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

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Written exam 50% 

one 1-hour unseen paper requiring 1 answer


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Written assignment 50%:

1 written assignment of c. 1,250 words, to be submitted once via Blackboard on Turnitin, by 12 noon on the submission deadline in Week 11 specified on the module site on Blackboard.


Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres 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 (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:

Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) only in August. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Any element which is re-sat in August is capped at 40%. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon on the third Friday of August.


Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: None

2) Specialist equipment or materials: None

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: None

4) Printing and binding: None

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: None

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: None


Last updated: 15 July 2021

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MODULE DESCRIPTION DOES NOT FORM ANY PART OF A STUDENT'S CONTRACT.

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