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Migration and the Making of Multicultural Britain

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Migration and the free movement of people have a history as long as that of humanity itself.

We will explore the relationship between migration and the cultural make-up of societies within the British Isles, beginning with the medieval and early modern period but with the main focus on the era of imperial history into the modern post-colonial era.

You will examine the range of communities that have travelled to and settled within British society, the history of integration or segregation, the culture created and positive or hostile reactions.

Particular attention will be paid to the economic, military, religious and political history that underpins this movement of people, as well as the ways in which historians can trace (on the one hand) the social changes that brought about campaigns for equal rights and (on the other) the developing history of racism and anti-racism.

We will consider the way in which different communities have been viewed by successive generations of historians of the British Isles, introducing the concepts of colonial and post-colonial ways in which history has been and can be written, and examining how perceptions of race and gender shape views of the past, present and future of multicultural Britain and the identities within it.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught online, incorporating recorded lectures and online seminars and workshops involving class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion and group work will enable you 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.


  • Introduction and course overview
  • Migrations to Medieval Britain
  • Migration and Early Modern Britain
  • Empire and its Legacy: Britain’s Asian Community
  • Empire and its Legacy: Britain’s African Community
  • Multicultural Britain and War
  • The Windrush Generation and the Later 20th Century
  • Non-Traditional Narratives and the Writing of History

Coursework and assessment

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

  • a short source analysis
  • a 1000-word essay

Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • D. Dabydeen, J. Gilmore and C. Jones (eds), The Oxford Companion to Black British History (Oxford, 2007)
  • J.T. Davidann and M.J. Gilbert, Cross-Cultural Encounters in Modern World History, 1543-Present (London, 2019)
  • T.M. Endelman, The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000 (Berkeley and London, 2002)
  • P. Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London, 1982)
  • Our Migration Story:
  • P. Panayi, An Immigration History of Britain: Multicultural Racism Since 1800 (Harlow, 2010)

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.