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Britain : from major to minor power

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 1


The history of Britain since the last decades of the nineteenth century, appears to plot an inexorable decline: from global ‘superpower’, sure of its identity and its international mission, to a medium-sized, regional power, hovering between reluctant proximity to, and temporary involvement with, successive European projects and attempts to rekindle global ambitions. 
The economic realities of Britain’s altered position in the international hierarchy of nations seem very clear. Less clear are the relationships between: a) the changing geopolitical role played by the British state within an evolving international concert of nations and the different crises which affect this; b) the desire of some in Britain to see change as necessarily reductive and to try to halt and even reverse national decline; c) the political and historiographical battles which have taken place around a) and b).
The position of Britain in Europe and beyond, its relationships with its key foreign partners, also have important implications for Britain itself, for the British state and for British society, and for how the British see themselves and how others see them. The changes that have occurred in these issues over the course of the past 150 years will form another important aspect of this course.  
This course aims to better understand these relationships and to give students a nuanced view of the changing role of Britain since 1870: attitudes of British observers to the changes, and of foreign observers as well. The broader aim is to discuss the nature and effect of concepts such as « decline » and national « identity » or « mission » and how they in turn affect changes to the operation of the international system.  

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Contrôle des connaissances

All students will be evaluated on two pieces of work: i) an oral presentation on any aspect of the course – the subject of the presentation to be chosen in consultation with the course leader - (the oral for students who are “dispensés” will take place at the end of the semester); ii) a written assignment to be handed in by the end of the semester. The subject for the latter could be (but does not have to be) related to the students’ personal research being carried out for their Master 2 dissertation.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles.

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  • Bernstein, George L The Myth of Decline. The Rise of Britain Since 1945. Pimlico, 2004.
  • Coates, David and John Hillard. UK Economic Decline: Key Texts. Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1995.
  • Childs, David. Britain since 1945 (1986). Routledge, 2001.
  • Clarke, Peter. Hope and Glory: Britain, 1900-1990. Penguin Books, 1997.
  • Esposito, Marie-Claude et al. Le Renouveau de l’économie britannique. Economica, 2007.
  • “Géopolitique du Royaume-Uni : une puissance en déclin ? » Diplomatie. Les Grands Dossiers 25 (2015).
  • Gamble, Andrew. Britain in Decline: Economic Policy, Political Strategy and the British State. St. Martin’s Press, 1994.
  • Harrison, Brian. Finding a Role? The United Kingdom, 1970-1990. Clarendon Press, 2010.
  • Marwick, Arthur. British Society since 1945. Penguin Books, 2003.
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Britain since 1945: the People’s Peace. OUP, 2001.
  • Pollard, Sidney. Britain’s Prime and Britain’s Decline: the British Economy 1870-1914. Hodder and Stoughton, 1989.
  • Soutou, Georges-Henri. Les puissances mondiales sont-elles condamnées au déclin ? Communications prononcées lors des "Entretiens de l'Académie des sciences morales et politiques", au Palais de l'Institut de France, le lundi 12 décembre 2011. Hermann, 2013. 
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