HI6050 - From Grand Tours to Dirty Weekends: Travellers and Tourists in Britain, Ireland and Beyond

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will discover how the histories of travel and tourism are deeply connected to the making of modern Britain and Ireland. You will explore the history of tourism from its eighteenth-century origins, when seaside towns and spas welcomed their first visitors and British and Irish aristocrats embarked on Grand Tours of Europe. You will learn how British and Irish landscapes were made iconic by Romantic writers, and how the development of steamships, railways, roads, bicycles, and motor travel revolutionised the way in which journeys were experienced and narrated.

You will discover how the royal tourism of Queen Victoria and her descendants helped strengthen the political union of the United Kingdom, and how the tourism industry forged cross-border links, promoted cooperation, and encouraged dialogue between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State after the Partition of Ireland in 1921. You will also learn how tourism was connected to the expansion of the British Empire, as travellers on Thomas Cook’s tours followed missionaries, traders, and empire builders to the Middle East, Africa, and India. You will consider how Black British travellers have experienced city space and the countryside in different ways to their white counterparts, and the photography of Ingrid Pollard will prompt you to think about the relationship between race and national identity in Britain today.

You will learn about key concepts and debates in the history of tourism, such as mobility, authenticity, landscape and place, gender, post-colonialism, the interaction of ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’, and the growing importance of travel as part of individual and national identity. You will engage with a wide variety of primary source material, from personal travel accounts, guidebooks, and timetables to the rich visual and material culture of postcards, illustrations, paintings, photographs, and poster artwork.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce the broader chronological developments in the history of travel writing and tourism, and the central themes and concepts. You will learn about the different approaches to the study of travel writing and tourism, both within the discipline of history and in literary studies, heritage studies, and historical geography. We will apply the concept of performance to understand travel as a form of self-fashioning and to understand interactions between ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’. We will consider insights from literary studies when we analyse the development of travel writing as a diverse genre, from personal travel narratives to the proliferation of guidebooks such as Murray’s and Baedeker’s.

You will prepare for the seminars by completing essential and recommended reading. The seminars are driven by primary source analysis, and you will be working with real historical evidence throughout the module. These sources will vary from week to week, and include extracts from travel writing, poster artwork, illustrations, films, and photographs. Learning materials, tasks, and readings will be available on Blackboard. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process, and the summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

On this module you will be supported throughout by your module tutor, the programme leader, and through engagement with your peers. The module tutor will be available on a weekly basis during scheduled feedback and consultation hours, and also by email. In the classroom, your peers will contribute to a collaborative learning environment, and you will be guided through the requirements and expectations of the module by the programme leader. Formative feedback will be provided during the weekly seminars and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of how travel writing and tourism shaped modern Britain and Ireland; awareness of important historiographical developments; knowledge of the historical sources that help us understand the history of travel and tourism.
2. A critical understanding of conceptual and theoretical categories that relate to these themes.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way, and to understand contemporary debates around tourism in their historical context.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Engagement with ethical questions around tourism and economic relations, including topics relating to empire and postcolonialism. Consideration of ethical questions around travel writing and the description of peoples and places, including topics relating to race, gender and class.

How will I be assessed?

2 x 3,000-word essays

The essays will provide an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their understanding of travel writing and tourism in modern British and Irish history, using a range of secondary and primary material, and showing skills in reading, analysis, source interpretation, criticism, and citation. These essays will be written in response to questions chosen from two thematic lists provided by the module tutor.

Formative assessment will be based around short student presentations in class.





Module abstract

In this module you will discover how travel and tourism shaped politics, culture, and identity in modern Britain and Ireland. Along the way, you will discover how modern safari tourism is connected to the spread of the British Empire in Africa, and you will find out about mountaineers such as Gertrude Bell, who defied traditional gendered expectations in the Swiss Alps. In the twentieth century, you will see how tourism became an area of cooperation in a politically divided Ireland. You will consider how Black British travellers have experienced city space and the countryside in different ways to their white counterparts, and the photography of Ingrid Pollard will prompt you to consider the relationship between race and national identity in Britain today. We will explore all of this by examining travel writing, posters, illustrations, photographs, and films.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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