Year 12 Unit 1

World College

Focusing on the world itself; we all live here, we should know how it works, who inhabits it and the way they manage their environment.

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Democracies in change: Britain transformed, 1918-97

Paper 1, Option 1H: Breadth study with interpretations


This paper is worth 30% of A Level and 60% of AS Level

Written examination: 2 hours 15 minutes

Marks available 60

You must answer three questions, one from Section A, one from Section B and one from Section C.

Section A and B comprise a choice of essays that assess understanding of the period in breadth (AO1).

Section C comprises on compulsory question that assesses the ability to analyse and evaluate historical interpretations (AO3).

Course Overview

This option comprises a study in breadth, in which you will learn about the extent to which Britain was transformed political, socially, economically and culturally in the years 1918-79. You will consider responses to the challenges of war, fluctuations in the economy, technological advancement and the desire for greater social equality.

The focus of study is on developments and changes over a broad timescale and so the content is presented as themes spanning a significant duration: 1918-79. This option also contains a study in depth of historical interpretations on a broad question, which is contextualised by, and runs on form, the themes: what impact Thatcher’s governments had on Britain, 1979-97.




1 A changing political and economic environment, 1918-79

  • A changing political landscape: changing party fortunes, 1918-31; the National government, 1931-45; Labour government, the rise of consensus politics and political challenge, 1945-79.
  • Responding to economic challenges: post-war boom, crises and recovery, 1918-39; creating a managed economy, 1939-51; the response to economic challenges, 1951-79.
  • Change and challenge in the workplace: the reasons for, and consequences of, industrial change and changing industrial relations, 1918-39; changing working opportunities and conditions, 1939-79; industrial relations, 1939-1979, and the reason for their breakdown in the 1960s and 70ss.

2 Creating a welfare state, 1918-79

  • Providing social welfare: the extent, and nature of, social welfare provision, 1918-39; the impact of the Second World War, the Labour government and consensus, 1939-64; the reasons for increasing challenges to state welfare provision, 1964-79.
  • Public health; health provision, 1918-45; the creation and impact of the National health Service (NHS), 1945-79, and the challenge of medical advances.
  • Education and widening opportunities: education policy, 1918-43; the significance of the ‘Butler Act’ 1944, and the development of comprehensive education to 1979; the growth and social impact of university education, 1918-79.

3 Society in transition, 1918-79

  • Class and social values: class, social change and the impact of wards, 1918-51; the emergence of the ‘liberal society’, and its opponents, 1951-79.
  • The changing role and status of women: the right to vote and political advancement, 1918-79; changes in family life and the quest for personal freedoms, 1918-79.
  • Race and immigration: immigration policies and attitudes towards ethnic minorities, 1918-39; the impact of the Second Worlds War and new2 Commonwealth immigration; racial controversy and the impact of government policies on race relations and immigration, 1958-79.

4 The changing, quality of life, 1918-79

  • Changing living standards: the impact of boom, crisis and recovery, and the significance of regional differences. 1918-39; the effects of ‘total war’ and austerity, 1939-51; the growth of a consumer society, 1951-79.
  • Popular culture and entertainment: the impact of mass popular culture, including cinema, radio and music, 1918-79; the influence of television from the 1950s and youth culture, 1955-79.
  • Leisure and travel: the growth of spectator sports from the 1920s; increased leisure time and the development of mass tourism from the 1930s; the impact of car ownership and travel developments, 1918-79.

Historical interpretations


What impact did Thatcher’s governments (1979-90) have on Britain, 1979-97?

The effect of Thatcher’s economic policies.

The extent to which state intervention and the public sector were ‘rolled-back’.

The extent of political and social division within Britain.

The effect of Thatcherism on politics and party development.

Assessment Objectives

AO1 Demonstrate, organise and communicate knowledge and understanding to analyse and evaluate the key features related to the periods studies, making substantiated judgements and exploring concepts, as relevant, of cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, difference and significance. (20% for this paper).

AO3 Analyse and evaluate, in relation to the historical context, different ways in which aspects of the past have been interpreted (10%).

Sample Questions

How accurate is it to say that there was very little difference in the social and economic policies of the Labour and Conservative governments in the years 1954-64? (20 marks)

How far do you agree that in the years 1918-45 women made substantial gains in thei r position and status? (20 marks)

Study extracts 1 and 2 in the Extracts Booklet before you answer this question

In the light of differing interpretations, how convincing do you find the view that Thatcher’s privatisation policies brought benefits to the British people?

To explain your answer, analyse and evaluate the material in both extracts, using your own knowledge of the issues.

Recommended reading list

Boxer, A The End of Consensus: Britain 1945-90

Clayton, S Mass Media popular Culture and Social Change in Britain since 1945

Evans E J Thatcher and Thatcherism

Jenkins, S Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts

Kavanah D A Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus?

Lynch M, Britain 1900-51

Lynch M, Britain 1945-2007

Marr, A A History of Modern Britain

Morgan, K O (ed) The Oxford History of Britain (OUP)

Pearce R, Contemporary Britain 1914-1979

Rees, R Britain 1980-1939

Stewart, G British Political History 1945-90: consensus and Conflict

Turner, A W Rejoice! Rejoice! Britain in the 1980s

Turner, A W A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s


DVD: Andrew Marr, Making of Modern Britain