Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Migrant Wales - 30 credits (HS1736)

Module Tutor: Bill Jones

In the years between 1790 and 1939, migration was a key theme in the history of Wales. Up to 1914, there was large scale movement into the new industrial and urban centres from the rural areas accompanied by the arrival there in sizeable numbers of migrants from elsewhere in Britain and beyond, among them English, Irish, Italians, Jews and Spaniards, as well as representatives of a large number of African and Asian ethnic groups. These inward movements were agencies for profound cultural, demographic, economic and social change. In the inter-war years, however, this pattern was dramatically and traumatically reversed as nearly 25% of the population moved out. Between 1790 and 1939, also, the out-migration of Welsh people gave Wales a more prominent international dimension. Throughout the period significant numbers of Welsh people emigrated overseas, mainly to the United States and to a lesser extent Australia and Canada. There were attempts to establish independent Welsh colonies, the most well-known being the ‘Wladfa’ in Patagonia. This module examines the patterns and processes of emigration, settlement, acculturation and language change among Welsh migrants in these countries and analyses the economic, demographic, social and cultural influences which shaped their experiences, and the institutions – churches, newspapers and ethnic societies – that helped to sustain and construct their ethnicity. The module also investigates the experiences and impact of in-migrants in Wales and the reception they received, thus posing fundamental questions about the extent of tolerance and racism in Welsh society in the years concerned. 

Credits: 30

Availability of module: Every year


Necessary for


Teaching methods

A range of teaching methods will be used in each of the sessions of the course, comprising a combination of lectures and seminar discussion of major issues. The syllabus is divided into a series of major course themes, then sub-divided into principal topics for the study of each theme.

The aim of the lectures is to provide a brief introduction to a particular topic, establishing the salient features of major course themes, identifying key issues and providing historiographical guidance. The lectures aim to provide a basic framework for understanding and should be thought of as useful starting points for further discussion and individual study. Where appropriate, handouts and other materials may be distributed to reinforce the material discussed.

The primary aim of seminars will be to generate debate and discussion amongst course participants. Seminars for each of the course topics will provide an opportunity for students to analyse and further discuss key issues and topics relating to lectures.


Students will be assessed by means of a combination of one 1000 word assessed essay [15%], one 2000 word assessed essay [35%] and one two-hour unseen written examination paper in which the student will answer two questions [50%].

Course assignments:

Assessed Essay 1 will contribute 15% of the final mark for the module. It is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to review evidence, draw appropriate conclusions from it and employ the formal conventions of scholarly presentation. It must be no longer than 1,000 words (excluding empirical appendices and references).

Assessed Essay 2 will contribute 35% of the final mark for the module. It is designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to review evidence, draw appropriate conclusions from it and employ the formal conventions of scholarly presentation. It must be no longer than 2,000 words (excluding empirical appendices and references).

The Examination will take place during the second assessment period [May/June] and will consist of an unseen two hour paper that will contribute the remaining 50% of the final mark for this module. Students must write 2 answers in total.

Skills that will be practised and developed:

  • communicate ideas and arguments effectively, whether in class discussion or in written form, in an accurate, succinct and lucid manner.
  • formulate and justify arguments and conclusions about a range of issues, and present appropriate supporting evidence
  • an ability to modify as well as to defend their own position.
  • an  ability to think critically and challenge assumptions
  • an ability to use a range of information technology resources to assist with information retrieval and assignment presentation.
  • time management skills and an ability to independently to organise their own study methods and workload.
  • work effectively with others as part of a team or group in seminar or tutorial discussions.    

Suggested book purchases


Preliminary Reading for this module: 

Alan Conway, The Welsh in America: Letters from the Immigrants
Muriel Chamberlain, ed., The Welsh in Canada
Aled Jones, and Bill Jones, Welsh Reflections: Y Drych and America, 1851-2001
Emrys Jones ed., The Welsh in London
R. Merfyn Jones and D. Ben Rees, The Liverpool Welsh and their Religion
William D. Jones, Wales in America: Scranton and the Welsh 1860-1920
Anne K. Knowles, Calvinists Incorporated: Welsh Immigrants on Ohio’s Industrial Frontier
Paul O’Leary, Immigration and Integration: The Irish in Wales 1798-1922
Charlotte Williams, Neil Evans and Paul O’Leary, eds., A Tolerant Nation?: Exploring Ethnic Diversity in Wales
Glyn Williams, The Desert and the Dream
Glyn Williams, The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community
Gwyn A. Williams, The Search or Beulah Land