Created by:

Profile Photo

Last updated:

April 8, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


What is a ‘nation’? What is a ‘state’? Where have these ideas come from and how have they developed over time? This free course, National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780-1840, explores how the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland was formed. It then moves to analyze the distinctions between the terms ‘nation’ and ‘state’. Finally, it evaluates the role of national identities in British popular politics during the first half of the nineteenth century.


In the 1780s there were two distinct but connected, political entities to be found in the British Isles: the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain. In January 1801, these kingdoms joined together to form a new state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, the political union did not necessarily mean that all of the people living in the British Isles suddenly felt that they had come together as ‘one nation’. This free course, National identity in Britain and Ireland, 1780–1840, begins by looking at why and how the United Kingdom was formed in 1801. You will then explore the emergence of British national identity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and evaluate the extent to which two popular political movements – opposition to Catholic emancipation and the parliamentary reform movement – helped to foster a shared sense of ‘Britishness’ among people living in the new state. Finally, as political developments in Ireland differed significantly from those in Britain, you will consider national identity as it emerged in an Irish context.

Learning Outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Understand how the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ emerged during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
  • Understand the processes that led to the formation of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland
  • Understand what is meant by ‘nation’
  • Understand what is meant by ‘state’
  • Understand how national identities emerged and converged in nineteenth-century Britain.

Course Curriculum

    • Uniting the Kingdoms 00:50:00
    • Britons and Britishness 00:40:00
    • Catholic Emancipation 00:45:00
    • Parliamentary Reform 00:45:00
    • Ireland and National Identity 00:40:00
    • Conclusion 00:20:00

About the instructor

4.8 4.8

Instructor Rating







Profile Photo
Open University UK