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Queen's University


Instructor: Dr Kate Turner

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An interdisciplinary introduction to the broad development of British life and culture, focusing on British national identity. The course usually combines British art history, history, literature and geography.

Available in Summer 2018 and Fall 2018.

PREREQUISITE    Level 2 or above.

IDIS 304 is an interdisciplinary course that offers a critical overview of British history, culture and politics. Looking at themes such as pop culture, London, British heroes, stereotypes, Britain and the world, national dishes, the royal family and the second world war, it 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 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. 


Learning outcomes

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

  • British modern history, culture, politics and ideologies
  • All contemporary debates on the future of 21st century Britain 
  • What makes a nation, and how national identities are formed and constantly re-imagined

Students will also have developed their skills in: 

  • thinking critically about their own identities
  • engaging critically with all different types of primary sources 
  • comparative analysis across national cultures
  • imaginative approaches to presenting their research findings  


Experiential learning opportunities

There are two ELOs in the course:

  • Central London. We take a walking tour of the heart of the British nation, from the river Thames and the Houses of Parliament to Downing Street and Trafalgar Square, exploring how identities are projected and how they are experienced by the public.
  • Mass Observation - the most important archive on modern British popular opinion and everyday life. We will look at diaries of ‘ordinary’ British people from the 1930s to today on a range of topics, from food and music, to foreign affairs and race relations.



Attendance and Participation counts for at least 20% of the final mark. 
The rest of the assessment will take place through a combination of the below tasks:

  • one essay
  • group research projects and presentations, 
  • short reports (max 500 words) on primary research (eg archives and interviews) and other research tasks (eg terminologies and definitions, reflections on class discussions) 

There are no exams at the end.


Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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