Undergraduate modules in environmental history available to BA History and Scottish History students


ENH2X2 Introduction to Environmental History: This module analyses, at a foundation level, changes in the varied landscapes of the region around Stirling over the last 1,000 years or so. It attempts to describe two important relations between human beings and their environment. First, how natural environmental variations in time and space have influenced human affairs. Second, how human beings have comprehensively altered the landscape. This course explores these complex interactions, particularly with regard to rural landscapes, and stresses how peoples’ attitudes to living, how they have measured success, and how they perceive their relationship with nature are central to explaining ourselves. We combine the techniques of the historian and archaeologist with scientific methods to explore synthetically the creation of the modern landscape.


HIS9J4 War, Famine, Disease and Death, c.1250-c.1650: This module focuses on the interplay of human and environmental factors in the shaping of later medieval and early modern Scottish society and culture, set into the context and experience of wider British and northern European history. It explores issues such as population pressure and agricultural exploitation, the impact of warfare and disease on the landscape, population and economy, and long-term processes of environmental change. It will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on historical and archaeological methods and materials, the techniques of environmental science, and evaluation of architecture and the plastic arts as historical sources.


HIS9J5 Gaels, Vikings and Normans: People and Environment in the North Atlantic World, c.850-c.1250: The module explores ‘the making of the kingdom’ of Scotland within the wider context of Gaelic and Scandinavian interactions within the wider North Atlantic World. Political and military expansion and development is set alongside colonial movements and cultural and economic exchange, all set within the wider framework of the potentials and limitations of the North Atlantic environment. The module offers a multi-disciplinary exploration of the mechanisms involved — employing historical, archaeological and place-name evidence — of the comparisons between wider N. European and Insular developments in this period of migration and expansion, and of the environmental factors which drove processes of migration and cultural change.

HIS9W6: Environment, politics and people in colonial Africa: The module will focus on both human interaction with the African environment and intra-human interaction on environmental issues during the colonial era. Particular attention will be paid to African interaction with, and knowledge, consumption and management of natural resources and the environmental impact of colonial rule. Themes addressed in the module will include ecological imperialism, the European hunting ethos, wildlife conservation and the creation of game reserves, colonial science and natural resource management, natural resource exploitation, and the environmental impact of colonial rule on the human and natural environments in Africa. This module also seeks to challenge perceptions of Western intellectual and scientific superiority at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the twentieth century, by focusing on the environmental impact of colonial policies that aimed at regulating the African environment and the interaction of African peoples with this environment. It seeks to deepen history-specific skills already acquired and to help extend further a range of transferable skills.  


HIS9I6  Castles: Power and Authority, Landscapes and Contexts: Spanning the period c.1100 to c.1650, the module mainly focuses on the Scottish experience in the broader context of northern Europe. It explores the castle, one of the iconic features of the medieval and early modern landscape, in its wider cultural, social and economic roles, using the theories and methods of environmental history and landscape studies. In it, the castle will not be studied as an isolated artefact, but in the direct context of its surrounding human and physical landscapes, exploring how they shaped it and how the castle’s owners reshaped and exploited them for their own purposes and needs. The module follows a thematic approach to examine a broad range of evidence types (archaeological, architectural, documentary and topographical) to trace the evolution of castles from the 11th to the 17th centuries, explore the landscapes of power in which they stood, and assess their legacies in the environmental record. The module will also introduce students, through the study of the castle and its surrounding ‘landscape of power’, not only to the theoretical aspects of environmental history, but also to the methodologies of the various disciplines which contribute to castle studies.

ARTU9H6 Safer Spaces: The Use, Abuse and Protection of the Environment in 20th-Century Britain: The module will take you on a thematic journey from the atmosphere, to the mountain top, down through forestry, heath and moor to agricultural land, into green-belt suburbia and the urban environment, and from river through to estuary and out to sea. By using a wide variety of focused case studies set within a wider European and international context, the module will explore the use, abuse and protection of the natural and built environment in 20th-century Britain. The module aims to provide the student with greater understanding of how human activity has, and continues to influence the natural and the built environment, the key themes and ideas in the historical management and protection of those environments and the process of policy creation. It introduces the student to a wide variety of topics including the environmental and health impacts of man’s activities in a wide variety of settings; Britain’s major environmental disasters; land-use pressures, leisure and heritage opportunities; resources conflicts; urbanisation and the emergence of modern environmentalism through to 20th-century environmental protection. See field trip image below.

New for 2016/17 Death, Disease and Disability: The State and the Hazardous Working Environment 1800–1914 [link to follow]: This new module offers an introduction to the development of health and safety regulation focusing on mining and manufacturing using a themed approach following a broad chronological progression. It aims to provide the student with greater understanding of the role of the state, in particular, the adoption of ‘defensive strategies’; the role of child labour in early factory reform; the key drivers of reform, including key individuals such as Lord Ashley, the early safety societies and the role of trade unions; the role of gender in health and safety reform, looking specifically at female labour in coal and metal mining and machismo and risk in ship building; the development of the key advances in the development of the field occupational health medicine and the emergence of safety technologies and practices; contemporary recognition and regulation of key occupational diseases, with a particular focus on the ‘dust diseases’ such as pneumoconiosis, silicosis, byssinosis and asbestosis and mesothelioma; the role, responsibility and also workforce/employers perception of the factory and mining inspectorate (including the role of ‘lady inspectors’); the development of workers’ compensation and contemporary recognition and regulation of the ‘dangerous trades’.  

HIS9A7 Living on the Edge? Environment, Landscape and Improvement in the North Atlantic World, c.1500 to c.1900: This final year module focuses on the progress and impact of the phenomena labelled as 'Improvement and Modernity' in the North Atlantic World between the 16th and 20th centuries, setting the cultural and socio-economic developments within the wider environmental context. It will address issues of climate-change across the period; the intensification of resource exploitation in marine and terrestrial contexts; the discovery of new economic resources; intellectual developments relating to agriculture, nature and ethnography; increasing industrialisation and urbanisation; crises of supply in fuels, manpower and foodstuffs; epidemic/epizootic disease and health; and the emergence of the 'Improvement myth'. An abundance of available primary sources, many of them now accessible on-line, coupled with a burgeoning output of research publications, presents students with an opportunity to engage in study of an era and subject which holds many contemporary resonances.


Module handbooks provide full details of the intended learning outcomes.

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