Urban Lives: Gender, Culture and Society in the Eighteenth-Century Town HIST4266

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

Short Description

The eighteenth-century town bustled with life: new streets, civic buildings, shops, theatres, taverns, hospitals, and prisons. This course will explore the place of gender in the lives of eighteenth-century city-dwellers and evaluate a range of primary sources including directories, diaries, ballads and images to consider themes of urban growth and migration, polite sociability, consumption, literacy and the Age of Enlightenment, civic government, as well as work, home and family life. How did experiences in Scottish towns like Glasgow and Edinburgh compare with their English and European counterparts? How far did towns offer opportunities for agency for women - rich, middling and poor? How was urban space gendered in the eighteenth century, and how did race, ethnicity and social status cut across gender to shape urban life?


10x1hr lectures, 5x1hr seminars, 5 active learning workshops as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Exam (90 minutes) - 50%

Essay (2,500 words) - 40%

Reflective writing exercise (2x500 words) - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Consider the impact of urban development on eighteenth-century gender, culture and society, encompassing family, work, civic regulation and the social order in an age of Enlightenment and industrialisation.

■ Examine modern approaches to urban, gender and social history and apply gender theory in a specific historical context.

■ Critically assess a range of secondary literature and primary sources and conduct independent research.

■ Develop proficiency in skills in oral presentation, group discussion and written argument.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Display an awareness of contemporary notions of gender difference and assess critically the extent to which this shaped the relative political, social and economic agency of men and women in a variety of contexts in urban society; 

■ Show familiarity with some of the key methodological and theoretical approaches utilised in gender history and apply gender theory to the study of the 18th century town;

■ Evaluate relevant sources that might be used to study gender and urban space and the methodologies based on these sources;

■ Evaluate historiographical debates relevant to this course in essays, a seminar presentation and the examination;

■ Formulate clear and well-supported oral and written arguments based on primary and secondary sources;

■ Work in small groups to analyse evidence and historical arguments.

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.