HS1NAB-Noise Annoys: British Youth Culture, Popular Music and Social Change, 1950s-90s

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Prof Matthew Worley

Email: m.worley@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module focuses on post-war Britain, exploring how social and political change was reflected in and/or driven by youth culture. The period saw the post-war settlement give way to the post-consensual politics of Thatcherism. It saw dramatic social and economic change, transformative technological advances and the seemingly perennial shadow of Cold War. The course will trace shifts in youth culture and popular music, locating them within their national and international context. We shall ask whether youth cultures represented harbingers of progress or portents of decay; whether pop music provided a historical soundtrack or served as mere cultural gloss.


The aim of the module is to use popular music and youth culture as a historical lens.

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:

The seminars will work chronologically, tracing youth cultural history from the 1950s through to the 1990s. Subjects covered will include Teddy Boys and rock ‘n’ roll; the gender politics of the counterculture and glam rock; the class politics of mod, skinhead and punk; the relationship between technological change, Thatcherism and 1980s/90s dance culture. Throughout, questions of class, race, gender and sexuality will be considered alongside broader political and cultural concerns. To what extent, we shall ask, can youth culture provide a space for formative and actual social change.

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 17
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 21
    Exam revision/preparation 21
    Preparation for seminars 21
    Essay preparation 20
Total hours by term 0 100 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 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:

    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 last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 11 September 2019


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