Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century Britain


This wide-ranging course examines significant episodes in modern British history when ordinary men and women challenged what they perceived to be severe political and socio-economic injustices. Covering the period between the end of the First World War and the fall of Margaret Thatcher, students will explore several key political, social, cultural, economic and intellectual developments, including the creation of the welfare state, post-war Commonwealth migration, and the rise and decline of mass trade unionism. They will also engage with wider debates about race, gender, ideology, sexuality and social class.

Programme details

Session 1

The First World War and its aftermath

Session 2

Political change in interwar Britain

Session 3

Society and culture in interwar Britain

Session 4

The ‘rise’ of extremism

Session 5

The Second World War

Session 6

Post-war reconstruction

Session 7

The post-war consensus

Session 8

An Affluent Society?

Session 9

Race and decolonization

Session 10

Feminism and the sexual revolution

Session 11

Political change in post-war Britain

Session 12

The end of consensus?


Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


Dr Matthew Kidd


Matthew Kidd is an early career researcher whose research focuses on issues of class, identity and ideology in modern Britain. He has published articles and book chapters on wartime socialism and the conceptual framework of labourist ideology, and his first book, The renewal of radicalism: politics, identity and ideology in England, 1867-1924, was published in 2020 by Manchester University Press. Matthew currently works at the University of Oxford where he co-ordinates the follow-up to the award-winning ‘Lest We Forget’ digital archive project.

Course aims

This course aims to explore key social, political and intellectual developments in Britain in the twentieth century, with a special focus on how ‘ordinary’ people analysed and attempted to redress their grievances during this period.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to understand:

  • The key social, political and intellectual changes and continuities that shaped British history between 1918 and 1991
  • How and why social and political movements rose and/or fell during this period
  • The complex relationship between socio-economic, cultural, intellectual and political changes
  • The key historiographical debates about these developments

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.