HI6026 - Sex and the City: Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century Britain

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about the ‘Urban Renaissance’ in Britain during the long eighteenth century, the period 1660-1830, focusing on Edinburgh, York and London, as well as several smaller urban centres. You will learn why urban populations expanded in this period, and you will be invited to consider the social, economic, cultural, environmental and intellectual consequences of urbanisation. You will learn about how and why town planning, sanitation and urban governance changed in this period, as many cities underwent dramatic physical improvements and alterations to their infrastructure, layout and environment. You will learn how all of these changes reshaped urban inhabitants’ daily lives, their social interactions, the gendering of urban life, and their sensory experiences (i.e. taste, smell, touch and sound as well as sight). You will be invited to consider key changes over time, such as the rise of the middle class, the treatment of social ‘problems’ such as crime and poverty, changes to the meaning and experience of neighbourliness, and improvements to water supply, waste disposal and street cleaning. The module will place a strong emphasis on the environmental governance of the townscape, exploring the complex negotiations between the top-down methods used by urban councils (bylaws, street inspections and court fines) and the bottom-up self-governance of neighbours (such as petitions). Using an environmental history approach, the module will explore in depth how townspeople interacted with the bio-physical flows of water, blood, manure, urine, livestock, beer, foodstuffs and each other.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures that present core concepts in British urban history, a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to studying urban history, and the historiographical debates in the field. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and will build on your independent reading by discussing your ideas in seminars with your peers. Through research-led teaching, seminars will provide you with expertise in the analysis of a variety of primary sources, including diaries and journals, visual sources, legal records and online databases. All learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLearning Portal (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. You will participate in formative assessment activities and receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised office hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate a critical engagement with key debates around eighteenth-century British history and social life
2. Establish your own considered position and understanding of urban development

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Develop a coherent research question drawing on historical theory and relevant research methodologies
4. Synthesise and communicate a coherent historical argument in writing, making effective use of primary and secondary material

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Demonstrate an awareness of the ethical and social consequences of urbanisation, applying these to contemporary society.

How will I be assessed?

Your knowledge and understanding of Britain’s urban history, your ability to develop and critically answer historical questions by drawing upon historical theory and secondary sources, and your ability to analyse and present primary sources will be assessed in an essay of 3,000 words and a final exam of two hours.
MLOs 1-5

You will have the opportunity to present your ideas in the seminars and will receive formative feedback from your lecturer in classroom discussions, debates, and tutorial sessions. Formative assessment through your lecturer will be written and verbal. Feedback on your first summative assessment will allow you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience

Find out about our distinctive approach at 

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy