The Transformation of Leicester, 1945-1980

Module code: HS3673

Module co-ordinator: Colin Hyde 

Module Outline

Between the Second World War and the 1980s Leicester was transformed as a city. It changed from an industrial to a largely post-industrial city as traditional industries such as hosiery and footwear declined and finally collapsed. In the same period Leicester moved from being a predominantly white British city to a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan one, through successive waves of immigration from around the world.


Topics covered

As well as de-industrialization and immigration in Leicester this module looks at other historical changes in the period, such as the clearing of slums, the planning of the urban environment, the conservation movement, and the rise of the teenager. As these examples suggest, the experience of Leicester paralleled wider shifts occurring in large parts of urban England in the mid-late 20th century. But the Leicester experience was also distinctive, as we shall see. 

The history we are studying is a history that has only been written in part. It is also a history within living memory. Consequently our sources will be different from those of a conventional History module. Our main resource will be the East Midlands Oral History Archive in 1 Salisbury Road (part of the School of History), which houses a collection of interviews, radio programmes and other materials on the history of Leicester and the region. You will learn how to use these oral sources, how to do your own interviews and how to integrate them into your written work. In this way the module encourages you to make your own histories and to make sense of the city around you.



The module will be taught through 10 two-hour and 10 one-hour seminar classes, combining short lectures, whole class discussion and individual and group work on primary sources such as interviews, radio programmes and film. All classes will be in 1 Salisbury Road, making full use of the resources of the East Midlands Oral History Archive.


Assessment is based on coursework rather than exams. Two assessed essays will cover oral history theory (40% of final mark), an oral history interview that each student conducts with a member of the public selected by the student (30%), and one of the subjects covered in the module (50%).


  • Beasley, B., Postwar Leicester (2006)
  • Thompson, P., The Voice of the Past (2000) 3rd edition