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“For Wales, See England”? History and National Identity in 19th Century Wales

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The nineteenth century transformed Wales from a peripheral region of the United Kingdom to a nation that was beginning to find its voice and the courage to assert itself, within the British Isles and beyond.

We will explore the development of Wales and the emergence of its national identity across the nineteenth century, examining agricultural and industrial developments that reshaped the Welsh economy, changed the landscape, and led to a seismic societal shift that has led some historians to refer to Wales as the world’s first proletariat nation.

On this journey through society, culture and politics in nineteenth-century Wales, we will enter the lives of the people, exploring occupations, housing, education, religion, recreation, and sport. You will discover how the changes of the nineteenth century impacted all aspects of life in Wales and gave birth to the modern nation we know today.

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. Introduction: When was Wales?
  2. Economic Developments: Agriculture
  3. Economic Developments: Industry
  4. Social Developments: The World’s First Proletarian Nation?
  5. Urbanisation: Swansea, Merthyr and … here comes Cardiff
  6. Political Awakening
  7. Religion and Culture
  8. Anglo-Welsh Relations
  9. Wales, the British Empire, and the Wider World
  10. Conclusion: The Significance of the 19th Century in Modern Welsh Identity

Coursework and assessment

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

  • A short source analysis
  • A 1000 word essay

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

Reading suggestions

  • John Davies, A History of Wales, revised edn (London: Penguin, 2007)
  • D. Gareth Evans, A History of Wales, 1815-1906 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1989)
  • Philip Jenkins, A History of Modern Wales, 1536-1990 (London: Longman, 1992)
  • Gwyn A. Williams, When Was Wales? A History of the Welsh (London: Penguin, 1985)

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.