Bader International Study Centre

Queen's University
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at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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IDIS 304/3.0 British Studies I

Instructor: Kate Turner

Course Description

IDIS304 is an interdisciplinary course that offers a critical overview of British history, culture and politics. The course content will be organised under five themes: Counter-Culture, Myth-Making, Protest, Borders, and Britain and the World.

The course tackles the most famous of British myths, analysing the ingredients of our postcard images of Britishness. At the same time it invites students to think about how their own national identities are formed and how their personal experience of Britain develops along the way. Different theories on identity-making will frame the course, while its material will be derived from history, politics, current affairs, literature, art and popular culture. Particular effort is made to ensure that the course requirements are accessible to those who don’t have background in one or more of the course’s disciplines.

Expected Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students will have a good knowledge of:

  • British history, culture and politics
  • contemporary debates taking place in modern Britain
  • Britain’s place within wider global and European contexts

Students will also be better able to carry out skills in: 

  • evaluating identities in a critical manner
  • contextualizing secondary sources
  • engaging critically with literary, media, historical, and cultural sources
  • communicating critical analysis in verbal and written forms
  • engaging in independent research
Field Studies

For this course there will be two trips. The first one will be a walking tour of the city of Brighton and will be focused on the theme of ‘counter-culture’. The second will be a walking tour of central London and will focus on constructions of national identity through the theme of ‘myth-making’.

Primary Research Expectations

Students will engage with different types of primary research, through:

  • Seminar content: this will include a variety of sources including party political propaganda, architecture, literature, and film.
  • Field trips: students are instructed on how to become critical and reflective thinkers, allowing them to consider how their identities affect their experiences and vice versa.
  • Research project: students will engage in research projects that will require their own research and organization of sources. Students will present their research: in written form in their course essays (individual work); visually and in written form in their Brighton research posters (pair work); verbally, visually, and in written form in their end of term presentations (group work).
  • Throughout the course students should transform from passive observers to critical thinkers: do not accept at face value anything, but aim to develop your own understanding; do not just describe but try instead to formulate a critical argument; evaluate and analyse the subject of your observations; ask whys, hows, and whats.

Assessment will consist of a course essay (25%), a research poster (25%), a group presentation (25%), and class participation (25%).

There is no exam for this course.