Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Steam: A History of Industrial Power

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The study-unit will describe the evolution and impact of a major driving force of the Industrial Revolution, steam, and the technology developed to harness it for the manufacture of products, generation of power, for travel and transport, and for military purposes. The use of steam prior to the Industrial Revolution will introduce the topic, followed by the consideration of early steam engines and their application to different areas of application.

The application of steam to manufacture of goods will be considered next, followed by the development of transport at sea and its impact on ship design, commerce, and politics. The logistics of operating a fleet of steamships will be discussed in view of the relevance to commerce and imperialism.

The failure of steam to provide a means of road transport will be contrasted to the immense success of railways, the development and role of which will be described, together with their impact on passenger and goods transport and on military operations.

The use of steam to generate electricity will lead to a consideration of the competing sources of energy, and the development of gasoline-based engines used for automobiles and aeroplanes, and later for ships and trains will lead to the conclusion of the unit, which will consider the modern history of the use of steam, and its impact on art, cinema, television and popular culture.

Study-Unit Aims:

The aims of the study-unit to describe a history of technology, with steam as a topical focus as a major component of technological development, are:

- To describe the technological developments which permitted the use of steam in chronological order;
- To discuss the impact of the elements of steam technology and their application to manufacture, power generation and transport, thereby enabling an understanding of the relevance of the infrastructure created and distributed to and impact on society;
- To place the role of technology and its purveyors in perspective in relation to world events, and give an understanding of a relevant and representative component of technology in a world context;
- To describe the identification of reported engineering and technology content in the literature, taking steam as a basis of this description whilst being applicable to other technologies.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Describe major advances in steam technology from the mid-18th century to the present;
- Explain the impact on society of the development of machinery used for the manufacture of goods, transport and the generation of electricity;
- Analyze, giving examples, the effect of steam-based technology on the commercial and military capabilities of a country.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Identify an element of steam technology and assess its relevance to social, economic and military progress by means of an essay or report;
- Identify the use of steam-driven machinery and describe the progressive evolution of steam technology;
- Identify references to steam technology in the literature and compile a non-technological review on steam or by similar analysis on other technologies.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- W. Rosen, The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention, University of Chicago Press, 2012.
- P. Hudson, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, Oxford University Press, 1997.
- R. C. Allen, The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Supplementary Readings:

- H.W. Dickinson, A Short H istory of the Steam Engine , Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: 1798-1848, Abacus, 1988.
- E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital: 1848-1875, Abacus, 1988.
- E. Hobsbawm, The Age Of Empire: 1875-1914, Abacus, 1989.
- E. Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: 1914-1991, Abacus, 1995.
- D.S. Landes,The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present, Cambridge Unversity Press, 2003.
- C. Vialls, Iron and the Industrial Revolution, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study & Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S John Charles Betts

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.