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

Semester 1 (2023-2024)

Lecture TimeMonday, 16:30 - 18:15

VenueRoom 308, Lee Shau Kee Building (LSK 308)


Lecturer Ian MORLEY (

Teaching Assistant Mar TICAO (

Course Description

Course HIST4380, an elective course for both major and non-major students, 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, for example, Southeast Asian nations.

This comparative studies programme shall allow students 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, with its active learning approach, 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 both in individual and group learning scenarios. 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; and,
  5. Exhibit critical thinking and research skills through the writing of a scholarly essay and the compiling of an online portfolio.

An Overview of the Course Structure

The teaching for course HIST4380 consists of two complementary learning situations, these being:

  1. Weekly online lectures to be given by Prof. Ian Morley. All lectures will be given via the use of Powerpoint, and where possible through the use of DVDs, videos and other electronic media. All lectures will be recorded and put onto Blackboard.
  2. Tutorials. In total four tutorials (approximately 45 minutes each in length) shall be given throughout the course of the term and these present valuable opportunities to not only clarify your knowledge collected in the lectures but to furthermore engage you in discussion of issues associated with the industrial past and its effects: effects being both in the past and present-day worlds.

Overall, the programme shall consist of two corresponding parts:

The first, at the start of the term, covers the nature of the Industrial Revolution.
The second, towards the end of the term, focuses more on the impacts upon society of industrial growth and change and gives references to developments in Asia as well as Europe and North America.

Lecture Date Topic

 1. Introduction Lecture

4th September 2023

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

 2. Agriculture and Proto-Industrialisation

11th September 2023

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

18th September 2023

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

25th September 2023

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. No Class!

2nd October 2023

 Public Holiday

 6. Society and Governance

9th October 2023

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?

 7. Technology: (i) Transportation

16th October 2023


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?

 8. No Class!

23rd October 2023

Public Holiday

 9. Technology: (ii) Skyscrapers and their Symbolism

30th October 2023


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?

10. Industrialization and Cities

6th November 2023


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?

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

13th November 2023


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, SARS, HIV/AIDS, Avian Influenza, etc., in Asia.

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

20th November 2023


 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.

 13. Industrialization, Social Class, and Social Structures

27th November 2023

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?

Sky 100 Field Trip

3rd November 2023

Theme: Seeing and thinking about Hong Kong from a new view.
Venue: Sky 100 Observation Deck, International Commerce Center (ICC), TST, HK


Assessment & Assignments
  1. Documentary review (30%). This assignment (2000 words) centers upon critically appraising a video documentary/demonstrating critical thinking.
  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 pair and small-group learning activities (30 points);
    • The compiling of an e-portfolio (10 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.


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.


Four (4) interactive tutorial sessions are arranged for course HIST4380. These will offer opportunities to develop knowledge via discussion and video-related activities.

Tutorials shall take place on:

Week 3: September 18, 2023
Week 9: October 30, 2023
Week 11: November 13, 2023
Week 13: November 27, 2023

Venue: Room 308, Lee Shau Kee Building (LSK 308)


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

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

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

Postan M. M. and Habakkuk H. J., (eds.), Cambridge Economic History of Europe (1966) UL HC240.C312 1966

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


Many articles from journals such as Economic History Review, American Economic Review, Journal of Economic History, International Review of Social History, Journal of British Studies, History Workshop, Past and Present, Journal of European History, shall also be utilised. Furthermore, reputable online sites and online files will be used as resource materials, including:


Potential Problems

Being a student given present-day demands is sometimes not easy. Juggling a social and family life with the demands of a university course can be troublesome at times. Consequently, some simple behavioural patterns are advisable at this point. By way of example, be thoroughly organised from the start of the term, note down the deadlines of any work to be handed in or dates of any presentations to be given as well as the dates of tutorials you are expected to attend. Moreover, given the demands upon you by work and home problems can occur. If difficulties do arise that will impact upon your studies please contact Prof. Morley or your Tutor immediately. They will endeavour to help you as much as is possible. Do not hesitate to speak with or to email your Tutor should you need help. Thus, if problems do arise please do not hesitate to notify your teachers. Problems when they initially occur can be managed far more easily than ones that are bigger in nature.

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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