HS3SAU-Anarchy in the UK: Punk, Politics and Youth Culture in Britain, 1976-84

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof Matthew Worley
Email: m.worley@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines the relationship between youth cultures and politics in Britain between the period 1976 and 1984. These were turbulent times, during which the steady improvements in living standards that helped facilitate the emergence of recognisable youth cultures in the years following World War Two gave way to economic downturn and political instability. Punk, it seemed, was the soundtrack to social, political and cultural change.


Specials aim to provide 'hands-on' experience of the historian's task through close examination and evaluation of primary sources and the light they shed on issues and problems. This particular module gives students an understanding of the relationship between youth cultures and politics in the UK.

Assessable learning outcomes:

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

  • undertake detailed textual analysis and comment on the primary materials

  • achieve a detailed command of varying historical interpretations of the primary materials and subject as a whole

  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing under timed conditions

  • recognise and interpret a wide range of different primary materials

  • locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research

  • deploy primary materials to shed light on the issues and problems being studied

Additional outcomes:

This 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:

This module uses primary material to explore the ways by and extent to which youth cultures provided space for young people to resist, explore and understand the society and communities into which they were coming of age. Thus, the breakdown of the post-war consensus, the emergence of Thatcherism and the reigniting of the cold war will be examined through the music, artwork and writings produced in the wake of punk’s emergence in 1976. Key questions include: what were the politics of pu nk? Was youth culture a site of resistance, as argued by Stuart Hall and others from the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Study (CCCS)? Can youth culture be read as a reflection of or influence on the wider political and socio-economic context into which it emerges and exists? 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

  • The teaching for this module involves weekly two-hour discussion seminars.

  • Students will gain ‘hands-on’ experience of the historian’s task through the detailed evaluations of key texts, and the light they shed on the issues and problems being investigated.

  • Students will be required to prepare for seminars through reading from both the primary sources and the secondary literature.

  • 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 22 22
Tutorials 2
Guided independent study: 176 178
Total hours by term 200 200
Total hours for module 400

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

A two-hour paper involving detailed commentary on extracts from the sources studied.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one fanzine-style portfolio and one essay (each constituting 30% of the overall mark for the module) to be submitted electronically, the first by 12 noon on the Monday of Week 1 in the spring term (portfolio), the second by 12 noon on the Wednesday of Week 11 in the spring term (essay). The portfolio should be presented as a fanzine and comprise elements such as primary source analysis (gobbets), record reviews and contextual summaries of historical content. The portfolio should not exceed 3,000 words in total, and the essay shall not exceed 3,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography. Essays and portfolios which exceed the word limit by more than 5% will incur a penalty of five marks. Candidates will be rewarded for making appropriate use of the prescribed texts.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative work, for instance seminar presentations, book reviews, posters, practice source commentaries, will be required for this Special Subject over the two terms.

Practice commentaries on the sources will be required for formative assessment.


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:

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 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


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