The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST4380 Industrial Revolution and its Impacts

Semester 1 (2020-2021)

Lecture TimeMonday 4:30pm-6:15pm


Lecturer Ian MORLEY ((852) 3943 7116 /

Teaching Assistant FONG Wai Man (

Course Description

Course Description

Course HIST4380 grants a survey of the origins and transformations of industrial society over the last two centuries or so, a period of time within which industrial nation states have reached new heights of power and acquired the dominant share of the world’s wealth: a wealth once dominated by Westerners but increasingly challenged in recent years by the rise of Asian nations. This comparative studies programme shall allow learners to obtain a critical understanding of the nature of industrial society from multiple perspectives through fostering a multidisciplinary approach to industrialization and many of the changes in society it helped to establish. The course will give students the opportunity to critically consider the ideas and the conditions in Europe and elsewhere that produced industrial change, capitalism and political reform/democracy – processes that the West considered then, and still considers today, as desirable for itself and other parts of the world. The curriculum gives particular focus to pre-industrial Europe and its economy, 1800s Britain, urbanisation and its effects upon social classes, public health, housing and ways of living, i.e. themes considered critical to successful governance today. The course is designed to build transferable skills such as thinking critically, well-constructed writing and the clear presenting of oral arguments. In so doing students will be expected to engage with a range of academic disciplines such as History (social and economic, cultural and urban), Social Studies, Economics and Geography, so as to answer questions such as:

  • In what ways did industrialization fundamentally change societies?
  • What factors accounted for the beginning of the Industrial Revolution?
  • How did patterns of urbanization change as a consequence of industrial growth?
  • How did social class and political relations shift due to industrial progress?
  • How did industrial changes affect the role of women or children in the work place?
  • Were the First and Second Industrial Revolutions the same, or were they different?
  • How did rural developments affect the rise of industry, e.g. in Europe’s past?
  • What dangers arise from rapid industrial and urban transition? Are these dangers universal? Do they exist in our world?
  • How can understanding industrial development in the past give deeper comprehension of the contemporary world?


Course Aims

At the end of the course students should be able to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Recognize and explain key events that led to upheavals within the economies and societies of Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, in so doing enhancing existing knowledge of what shaped these continents and so made them what they are today;
  2. Grasp the relationship between the evolution of industrialization and the changing nature of societies;
  3. Consider broad issues within History in greater depth so as to make connections between industrial growth and different contexts;
  4. Demonstrate historical knowledge development via online exercises and class-centred exercises;
  5. Exhibit critical thinking and research skills through the writing of a scholarly essay and the compiling of an online portfolio.

1. Introduction Lecture

An overview of industrial development and its images from the late-1700s onwards.


2. Agriculture and Proto-Industrialisation

Are changes in society necessary prior to the arrival of industrialisation and the shift from agrarian to industrial society? If so, are there any necessary steps beforehand? What was the condition of Europe’s economy prior to the mid-1700s? How important were rural changes to industrial development?


3. Defining the Industrial Revolution

What is meant by the terms ‘Industrial Revolution’ and ‘industrialisation’. In what ways was industrial growth and change revolutionary? What were the social impacts of industrial development? What were work and living conditions like in the early days of the Industrial Revolution?


4. Industrialisation and the European Continent

Why did the Industrial Revolution first occur in Britain? Why did, for example, France industrialise later? How and when did Eastern Europe industrialise? Were there any different pre-requisites in Mainland Europe in order for industrialisation to occur?


5. Society and Governance

How did governments, both local and national, deal with changes in urban society? How did industrialisation affect politics? What institutional changes are needed to adequately govern an industrialising/industrial society?


6. Technology: (i) Transportation

How important is technology to the development of industrialisation, and also its expressions? What inventions were crucial to the industrial progress of (at first) Britain but also other nations? What impacts did inventions, such as the train, have upon urban living?


7. Technology: (ii) Skyscrapers and their Symbolism

Why have cities taken on huge vertical scales? What role has technological developments had in allowing cities to grow high? Which city is the home of the skyscraper? What do tall buildings represent about the state of societies (in Asia)? Why is the home of the skyscraper now SE Asia? What political, economic and cultural messages are these buildings sending?


8. Industrialization and Cities

What are the universal impacts industrial growth has upon urban places? In what ways can these influences overcome time, geography and cultural matters? What effects become apparent when rapid urban growth is established as a consequence of economic progress?


9. Public Health and National Prosperity: (i) Physical Well-being

With reference to the 19th century British industrial cities attention shall be given to the association between health and wealth, and how in some instances due to integrated social policies causes of burdens for the poor can become cures. Attention shall also be given to the impact of diseases such as Cholera, Covid-19, etc.


10. Public Health and National Prosperity: (ii) Mental Well-being

This class provides an opportunity to openly discuss many of the broader issues associated with health, well-being, and economic progress. With reference to the Kingdom of Bhutan and Thailand the class shall discuss why some Asian countries have started to put people’s psychological health before economic advancement.  The class will also examine the history of the concept of mental well-being, and its erosion after industrialization took off in Europe. Particular attention will be given to the practice of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan.


11. Industrialization, Social Class, and Social Structures

What new social dynamics are created in industrial change? Can these dynamics reflect themselves in political forms, or social class consciousness and organisation? What social class conflict events in history are reflections of the tensions brought about by industrial change and, for example, greater democratic rights?


12. Jumping Forward: Asian and Chinese Industrial Development

What changes have occurred in Asian societies since 1950? What is the extent of these changes? Have the changes been good or bad? Are the changes affecting everyone in the same way? Have under-classes been created and how is modern life for these people? How are governments in Asia dealing with slum housing and social marginalisation? Are the lessons from history in other parts of the world being utilised in Asia today? When did China industrialise? What role has Chinese politics played in determining industrial change? What success have Chinese governments had in controlling the impacts of industrialisation?


13. Evaluating Industrialisation: Past-Present Links

The final class will grant opportunity to evaluate the causes and impact of industrialization, in so doing occasion is given to compare and contrast how and why industrial change occurs and the effects it has upon people and the natural environment.

Assessment & Assignments

Grading and Assessment

  1. Documentary review (2000 words). This assignment centres upon critically appraising a video documentary, and comprises 30% of the overall term grade.
  2. Take-home exam (30%), a summary exercise (1500-2000 words in length) that utilizes materials students have collected in their online portfolio, in so doing encouraging learners to reveal their own thoughts and conclusions about the industrial revolution and its impacts The take-home exam, in particular, focuses on students applying classroom/book knowledge to real world themes/issues.
  3. Participation grade (40%). This grade is given in relation to classroom and e-learning activities:
  • Attendance of lectures and tutorials, and engagement with classmates in group learning activities (25 points);
  • The compiling of an e-portfolio (15 points), an online work platform designed to allow students to follow-up on course-related subjects of their own personal interest and choice. The e-portfolio gives chance to further develop critical thinking and knowledge development, i.e. matters transferable to other courses at CUHK, and for the promotion of lifelong learning on topics selected by/of interest to the students;


The tutorials (4 in total) give students the chance to discuss in some detail the topics introduced in the lectures, and to help them sort out any problems in understanding that they may have. Time is also set aside to consider how industrialization has corresponded with changes in the broader world. Group activities shall be integrated into tutorial classes so that students can ‘do History’ but for tutorials to run effectively all students will be expected to have prepared beforehand, e.g. by reading and by thinking about the class topic in question. Materials to read shall be given by your lecturer each week and by consulting this course book. You also need to be prepared to join in the discussions within the tutorials: active learning is a basic of HIST4380. But do not be afraid to ask questions if you are in doubt: by asking a question you may help others get a better grasp of the topic as well as well as helping yourself!



Materials to be used in this course include:

Aldcroft D.H., and Ville S.P. (eds.), The European Economy, 1750-1914: A Thematic Approach (1994)   UL  HC240.A6657

Ashworth W., A Short History of the International Economy since 1850 (1975)  UL  HC53.A8 1987

Braudel, F., Civilisations and Capitalism (1981, 1982 and 1984)  UL  HC51.B67413 1982

Brown, I., Economic Change in South-East Asia 1830-1980 (1997)   UL  HC441 .B75 1997

Cambridge Economic History of Europe (1966)   UL  HC240.C312 1966

Mathias P., and Davis J.A. (ed.), The First Industrial Revolutions (1989)  UL HC240.F46

Deane P., The First Industrial Revolution (1979)  UL  HC254.5.D3 1979

Harrison J.F.C., The Birth and Growth of Industrial England 1714-1867 (1973)  UL  DA480.H28

Malthus T., An Essay on the Principal of Population (1998)  UL  HB851.M3

Mathias P., The First Industrial Nation (2001)  UL  HC253.M36

Smith A., Wealth of Nations (1994)  UL  HB161 .S6522 1970

Stearns, P.N., The Industrial Revolution in World History  UL  HD2321.S74 1998

Teich M., and Porter R. (eds.), Industrial Revolution in National Context. Europe and the USA (1996)  UL  HC53 .I53 1996

Vente, R.L. and Peter S.J. Chen, Culture and Industrialisation: An Asian Dilemma (1980)  UL  HC412.C84



e-Learning and Facebook Group

To supplement HIST4380 learning materials shall be available online through the CUHK Blackboard system. To use these materials registered students input their CUHK student number and password so as to access, and if they so wish, download materials relevant to the lectures each week. Materials accessible include key contextual texts, lecture PowerPoints used by Prof. Morley, podcasts, videos, etc. The use of Blackboard ensures that if for any reason a student is unable to attend a class that individual can still access all materials given out in the lecture, and not fall behind in the course, but also is designed to offer a structured learning environment outside of the classroom so that students can continue to develop knowledge and skills. Furthermore, texts pertinent to assignment questions can be uploaded by Prof. Morley if there are problems obtaining books or papers from the CUHK library.

Additionally, registered students shall have access to a locked Facebook group through which matters of relevance to the classes can be discussed. Students are welcome to share weblinks or upload photos at this site that are relevant to the overall theme of the course.



Student e-Portfolio

To demonstrate an understanding of contextual matters related to the impacts of industrial growth each week students will be asked to upload newspaper stories, website articles, papers, etc. of personal interest, and to place them into an organised folder (portfolio) within the Blackboard system. The material collected shall form the basis of sources to be used for the take-home exam. The purpose of the e-Portfolio is to encourage learning outside of the classroom based on wider reading, and to develop basic transferable skills of pertinence to studying at CUHK and, ideally, the workplace after graduation.



Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

The Chinese University of Hong Kong puts great emphasis on academic honesty and consequently all students are advised to refer to the following website with regards to university regulations about cheating and plagiarism (copying):

Please note: Under no circumstances shall cheating or plagiarism be tolerated. Academic dishonesty can lead to disciplinary action that may result in a stopping of your studies in the History Department. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to make yourself familiar with the CUHK academic honesty website, and the dangers of copying other’s work.

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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