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Cardiff, Metropolis of Wales: People, Places, History

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From the hillfort at Caerau-Ely to Roman and Norman invasions and the building of Cardiff Castle, and on to Reformation, Civil War, coal and culture, this course examines the growth and development of Cardiff from its origins to the present day.

Our journey will begin with Cardiff’s earliest inhabitants and how the settlement developed between the arrival of the Romans and the development of a medieval town following the Norman invasion.

We will go on to consider Cardiff’s growth into a county town, its nineteenth century transformation and role as the world capital of coal exports, its experience of the two World Wars, and its more recent political, national, and cultural history as it has grown into its role as the Welsh capital.

We will explore the buildings and people that have shaped the city and discuss how its identity has morphed and changed in response to local, national, and international events.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught through ten two-hour sessions, incorporating lectures, seminars and workshops.

These sessions will consist of a one-hour lecture followed by class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion and group work will enable students to think critically and to contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures.

The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.


  1. Cardiff’s Earliest Inhabitants
  2. Norman Cardiff: Foreign Overlords and Welsh Troublemakers
  3. Life in Medieval Cardiff
  4. Early Modern Cardiff: Reorganisation, Reformation and Rebellion
  5. Early Modern Cardiff: Change, Development and Progress
  6. The Dragon Awakes: Cardiff the Coal Port
  7. Urban Traits and Urban Spaces, Urban Growth and City Status
  8. Tension, Protest and Strife: Cardiff at War
  9. Cardiff Since 1945: A New Role and a New Identity
  10. What does the future hold for Cardiff?

Coursework and assessment

You will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a short source
  • a 1000 word piece of public history writing, such as a blog

There will be lots of help and support available for both assignments.

Reading suggestions

  • Dennis Morgan, The Cardiff Story: A History of the City from the Earliest Times to the Present (Tonypandy: Hackmann, 2001)
  • Dic Mortimer, Cardiff: The Biography (Stroud: Amberley, 2014)
  • Nick Shepley, The Story of Cardiff (Stroud: The History Press, 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.