Show/hide main menu

Level 5

5AAH3009: Making the Modern Metropolis: London since 1800

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor (2019/20): Dr Jack Saunders
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
AvailabilityPlease see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%), 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each) & 1 x oral presentation (10%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment by the following methods: 1 x 3 hour examination (60%); 2 x 2,000 word essays (15% each); 1 x 1500 word essay (10%)

N.B. This module cannot be taken in conjunction with 5AAH1053 or 5AAH1054 due to overlap of content.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

From Queen Victoria’s reign through the course of the twentieth century, London’s status as the quintessential ‘modern metropolis’ was largely unrivalled- an extraordinary city in which many of the challenges and achievements of urban life and the ‘modern’ world were to be found in microcosm.

This module offers students the opportunity to investigate these themes while studying in the heart of the city itself. They will be encouraged to draw upon the rich archival and digital resources available for the subject, and the material culture of the city today, as well as the museums, galleries, libraries and cultural centres which all bear witness to the history of the nation’s capital (and the seat of empire) over two centuries.

Themes covered in the module will include London’s growth and diversity, its commercial importance as a port and financial centre, poverty, ‘vice’, crime and punishment, wealth and power in the city, immigrant and ethnic minority communities, religion in the metropolis, leisure and entertainment, and sanitation and health. Moving into the twentieth century, seminars will explore the lives of the urban poor and social elite, the growth of suburbia and the transport system, London at war, prostitution and sexual spaces, queer London, immigration, the growth of the City, ‘Swinging London’, and the counterculture of the later twentieth century.

This module will offer students from a range of different humanities disciplines a chance to study the political, social and cultural history of the city in which they live, work and study. Students will undertake fieldtrips within the city (including the London Metropolitan Archives and the Black Cultural Archives) to enhance their understanding of the development of ‘modern’ London.


Provisional Teaching Plan

Semester 1

1. Mapping London: Material and Imagined World
2. Engine of Growth: The Metropolitan and Imperial Economies
3. Governing London: Politics and Protest
4. Victorian Poverty and its Amelioration
5. Crime, Punishment and Policing
6.Health, Hospitals and Sanitation
7. Vice and Moral Reform
8. Leisure and Pleasure
9. House and Home in London
10. Strangers in the City: Migration and Ethnicity

Semester 2

11. Lives of the Twentieth-Century London Poor
12. Twentieth-Century Politics and Protest
13. Governing and Financing the Modern City
14. London at War: The Great War and Second World War
15. Living in London: Homes, Transportation and Suburbanisation
16. London Leisure I: Roaring Twenties and Interwar Pleasure
17. London Leisure II: Post-War Austerity and Swinging Sixties
18. Planning and Redeeming the City: Religious Missions and Utopian Visions
19. From Imperial London to Cosmopolitan London
20. Sex in the City: The Shifting Boundaries of 'Public' and 'Private' 

Suggested Introductory Reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography (2000)

Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities (1968)

Matthew Cragoe and Antony Taylor (eds), London Politics, 1760-1914 (2005)

Richard Dennis, ‘Modern London’ in M. J. Daunton (ed.), Cambridge Urban History of Britain Volume III, 1840-1950 (2000), 95-131.

John Eade, Placing London: From Imperial Capital to Global City (2000)

David Feldman and Gareth Stedman Jones, Metropolis - London: Histories and Representations since 1800 (1989).

Judith Flanders, The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dicken’s London (2012)

Michael Hebbert, London: More by Fortune than Design (1998)

Matt Houlbrook, Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 (2005)

Marc Matera, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the 20th Century, (2015)

Frank Mort, Capital Affairs: London and the Making of the Permissive Society, (2010)

Lynda Nead, Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century London (2000)

Roy Porter, London. A Social History (1994)

Ellen Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918 (1993)

Sukhdev Sandhu, London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City (2003)

Judith Walkowitz, Nights Out: Life in Cosmopolitan London (2012)

Philip Ziegler, London at War, 1939-1945 (1996)

Gavin Weightman, Steve Humphries, Joanna Mack and John Taylor, The Making of Modern London (2007, new edition)

Jerry White, London in the Nineteenth Century (2007)

Jerry White London in the Twentieth Century: a City and its People (2001)

Additional costs

  • As the module will include occasional field trips, please note that additional transport costs within London may be incurred.
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454