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A History of Cardiff: From Roman Fort to Capital City

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This course examines the main historical, social and cultural factors that have shaped Cardiff's story.

Over the 10 weeks, you will learn about the city's early development in the hands of the Romans and the Normans, its growth as a county town and port, and the legacy of the Bute family; you will also explore the diverse activities that have preoccupied the lives of the people of Cardiff over the many centuries, from politics, education and religion to culture, recreation and sport.

The main historical outline covers:

  • Cardiff's origins
  • Roman development
  • Norman occupation
  • Medieval Cardiff
  • 16th and 17th centuries: the county town of Glamorganshire
  • 18th and 19th centuries: the coal industry and the development of the docks, shipping and ship repairing
  • the Bute family
  • 20th century: city status and capital of Wales.

It covers the following themes:

  • population growth and immigration
  • politics and attitudes
  • national and local events
  • the life of the people: occupations, housing, education, religion, culture, recreation, sport.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include group discussion, exercises, source analysis and presentation of material on video and/or DVD. The aim is ensure that the classes are enjoyable and stimulating for all. This will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding of the topics and ideas discussed in the course.

Coursework and assessment

Essays or other equivalent written assignments to a total of 1500 words demonstrating an understanding of core elements of the course material.

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

You will not have formal examinations but you may have class tests. You may be asked to write assignments, keep a course journal or put together a portfolio.

Our assessments are flexible to suit the course and the student. The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

  • Edgar L. Chappel, History of the Port of Cardiff (Cardiff. 1939; second edition, 1994)
  • John Davies, Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute (Cardiff, 1981)
  • J. Daunton, Coal Metropolis: Cardiff 1870-1914 (Leicester, 1977)
  • Dennis Morgan, The Cardiff Story (Cardiff, 1991; reprinted, 2001)
  • Dennis Morgan, The Illustrated History of Cardiff's Suburbs (Derby, 2003)
  • Dic Mortimer, Cardiff: The Biography (Stroud, 2014)
  • Nick Shepley, The Story of Cardiff (Stroud, 2014)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.