The Making of Modern Britain (Online)


In 18th c Britain democracy was feared, protest was suppressed, religious intolerance prevailed. Over the next two hundred years, a modern, democratic, multicultural Britain emerged. This course will examine the key social, economic and political influences which have shaped Britain in the 21stc both as a nation state and as an international power.

This course was written by Annette Mayer who specialises in nineteenth and twentieth century British history. Annette is the author of three online courses for OUDCE. Listen to her talking about the course:

From the age of the Enlightenment and the American and French revolutions, Britain embarked on a steady process of political change and reform, during which aristocratic rule was challenged and fears of democracy overcome. The rise of the middle classes, the emergence of a working-class party, demands for women's suffrage, all affected the way in which constitutional government evolved in Britain. Over the same period of time Britain was transformed both economically and socially. The economy was revolutionised by industrialisation, enabling Britain to consolidate her position as a world power. Yet this status was short-lived as 20thc Britain came to terms with loss of international prestige and colonial authority. At the same time, Britain was transformed from being a country in which one religion prevailed and civil rights were denied to many, to being a vibrant, multicultural nation in which diversity of race and religious beliefs are celebrated. This course will introduce students to an understanding of the main factors which helped to create modern Britain. There will be regular exercises designed to develop a range of historical skills which will included evaluation of historical sources, the understanding of historical concepts, exploring debates and appreciating the significance of historical theories.

This course is compulsory for all Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education students who have chosen to major in history. The course is particularly designed to introduce students to the methodology of studying history. There will be regular exercises aimed at developing a range of historical skills which will include evaluation of historical sources, enhancing understanding of historical concepts, exploring debates and appreciating the significance of historical theories.


For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

1. The Enlightenment

  • The key philosophical and political ideas of the Enlightenment
  • The wider impact of the Enlightenment
  • Implications within Britain
  • Introduction to note-taking

2. The Age of Revolution

  • The American and French Revolutions
  • Political radicalism in Britain
  • Evaluating primary sources (political)

3. The Industrial Revolution

  • Enterprise, initiative and innovation
  • A great manufacturing nation
  • Evaluating primary sources (social and economic)
  • First assignment on primary sources

4. Government and the People

  • Pressures for reform and government responses
  • Why no revolution?
  • Understanding historical debate and assessing the value of different historical theories

5. Women: campaigning for women's rights

  • The women's suffrage movement
  • The fight for social and economic equality
  • Critical analysis of visual sources  cartoons, posters etc
  • Examining the influences which create new historical disciplines

6. The changing role of the state: from laissez-faire to welfare state

  • Nineteenth century individualism
  • The growth of the welfare state
  • Understanding concepts

7. Changing images of Britain

  • Mass politics
  • Mass education
  • Grass-roots politics and protests
  • Growth of popular culture
  • Research and essay preparation.

8. Britain and the wider world

  • Imperial Britain
  • Decline of empire
  • The Commonwealth and post-colonialism
  • The relationship with Europe
  • Second assignment  essay

9. Multi-cultural Britain

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Immigration
  • Critical analysis of contemporary interpretations

10. Britain today?

  • How democratic is Britain today?
  • What is Britain's global status?
  • What are the attributes of a modern democratic state?
  • Evaluating Britain  exploring and criticising modern day commentary.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


Dr Christine Pushpa Kumbhat

Course aims

This course aims to:
1. Study and evaluate the factors influencing the emergence of modern Britain
2. Enable students to acquire a range of historical skills such as understanding the importance of concepts, the role of historical debate and the critical analysis of historical sources.

This course will enable participants to:
1. Assess the key political, social and economic developments and changes within Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
2. Analyse and explain the main ideals and values which helped to shape modern Britain.
3. Develop a range of historical skills through the evaluation of primary sources and critical reading of texts.
4. Understand and appraise historical interpretations and appreciate the nature of historical debate.


Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of documents
  • Research topics with student feedback
  • Discussion sessions
  • Set questions on primary materials
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders
  • Quizzes
  • Guided exercises on acquiring a range of historical skills

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:
1. The key political, social and economic developments and changes within Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
2. The interaction of ideals and values which over two centuries helped to create and shape modern Britain.
3. The process of how to understand and study history.

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
1. The ability to demonstrate secure knowledge of the main political, social and economic developments which occurred in Britain between the late 18th century and the present day.
2. The ability to write both critical and analytical evaluations of these key issues.
3. The ability to evaluate and appreciate the way in which particular ideas were significant in influencing and shaping developments.
4. The ability to compare, evaluate and interpret primary sources, and to organise ideas constructively in support of their interpretations.
5. The ability to evaluate historical interpretations and understand historical concepts.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link:


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.