Work & Labour in Britain Since 1940 ESH4053

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines changes in work and trade-union organisation in the context of Britain's economic and social history since 1940. The course analyses the impact on workers and employment of long-term economic and policy changes, showing the centrality of deindustrialisation. The importance of work as a source of economic security is emphasised. The linkages between work and social identity, involving the intersectional influences of class, community, gender and ethnicity, are examined. The particular experiences of coal miners, dock workers and manufacturing workers are analysed. The distinct national experiences within Scotland are assessed. The chronological coverage comes forward from the Second World War, through the 'Golden Age' of manual work in the 1950s and 1960s, to the difficulties and crises of the 1970s and 1980s, finishing with examination of precariousness in employment since the 1990s.


One two-hour teaching session per week. A cooperative learning approach is used, with no formal lectures.


Please note this course does not run every session. For further information please check the ESH Moodle page.

Requirements of Entry

Enrolment in an MA (SocSci) or MA (Arts) Honours Programme

Excluded Courses



Critical literature analysis = 30% (1250 words) [project output]

Source report = 30% (1250 words) [report]

Essay = 40% (2000 words) [written assignment]

NB all three components are written assignments, testing different skills to show command of ILOs

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable


Course Aims

1. To analyse the impact of social and economic change on workers and trade-union organisation in Britain since 1940

2. To analyse key changes in work and employment in Britain since 1940

3. To analyse different interpretations of industrial relations and trade-union organisation in Britain since 1940

4. To analyse the character and impact of government policy relating to work, workers and trade-union organisation in Britain since 1940

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

On successful completion of this course, students will be equipped to analyse:

1. key academic literature on a central issue in the history of work and labour in Britain since 1940

2. sources used in the study of work and labour in Britain since 1940

3. central problems in the history of work and labour in Britain since 1940

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.