British Civilization: An Introduction, 8th Edition (Paperback) book cover

British Civilization

An Introduction, 8th Edition

By John Oakland


390 pages | 82 Color Illus.

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The eighth edition of this highly-praised textbook has been substantially updated and revised to provide students of British studies with the perfect introduction to Britain, its country and people, politics and government, education, economy, media, arts and religion. It includes:

  • discussion of recent developments and areas of topical interest in British society such as immigration, the recession, devolution and the Scottish Referendum and Britain’s relationships with the US and the EU
  • coverage of the 2015 general election and its implications for the future
  • new full-colour illustrations
  • exercises and questions to stimulate class discussion
  • insights into the attitudes of British people today towards important issues
  • updated suggestions for further reading and useful websites.

Supported by a fully updated companion website (found at featuring further exercises, quiz questions, an interactive timeline, links to relevant articles and videos online and tutor guidance, British Civilization is a vital introduction to the crucial and complex identities of Britain past and present.


"Oakland has produced an accessible and comprehensive introduction to British culture and society maintaining clarity and focus while looking at issues in sufficient depth and detail. The book is well supported with a dedicated website for students and tutors offering links for future research and self-assessment."

Chris Bilboe, University of Liverpool, UK

"Oakland's well-organised and lucid approach makes British Civilization a superb textbook for all students of contemporary Britain."

Atle Libæk Wold, University of Oslo, Norway

"The neatly updated eighth edition of John Oakland's British Civilization is probably the best and most comprehensive institution-based introduction to contemporary Britain, and is simply indispensable in the classroom."

György Borus, University of Debrecen, Hungary

"This most readable book focusing on various aspects of contemporary British society is absolutely indispensable for international students, both in Britain and abroad, who seek a deeper understanding of British history, life and institutions."

Rudolf Chalupsky, University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic

"Comprehensive and brilliantly structured, British Civilization has helped my successive undergraduate classes get a clear and thorough introduction to the different aspects of British society. This revised and updated eighth edition is undeniably highly valuable course material for foreign students of British Studies."

Salim Kerboua, Université Mohamed Khider de Biskra, Algeria

Praise for the previous edition:

"This is an excellent core course book, suitable for both native and non-native speakers of English alike. It is well written and provides up-to-date coverage of a wide range of topics."

Howard Jopp, University of Hull, UK

"The balance between the width and depth of Civilization analysis makes this an excellent textbook for students at the introductory level of the field. John Oakland covers a wide range of topics without becoming bogged down in details and while preserving the complexities of British Civilization issues and debates."

Ane Vikaune, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

"Oakland’s British Civilization not only provides an historical overview, but also an in-depth insight into the issues and debates encountered when studying Britain, its institutions and people. For those who are fascinated by Britain, this is a book not to be missed; for those who aren’t, this book will certainly change your mind."

Li-Jiuan Lilie Tsay, Ming-Chuan University, Taiwan

"A highly-readable exploration of British culture, media and the arts. The updated edition examines areas other books on the subject fail to address and the exercises at the end of each chapter are current and thought-provoking. This would be a valuable addition to the bookshelf for all undergraduates of the field."

Russell Clark, Keele University, UK

Table of Contents

List of plates. List of figures. List of tables. Preface and acknowledgements. Chronology of significant dates in British history. 1. The British context. 2. The country. 3. The people. 4. Religion. 5. Politics and government. 6. International relations. 7. The legal system. 8. The economy 9. Social services 10. Education 11. The media 12. Leisure, sports and the arts. Index.

About the Author

John Oakland is former Senior Lecturer in English at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the author (with David Mauk) of American Civilization (2013, now in its sixth edition), Irish Civilization (2012, with Arthur Aughey), British Civilization: A Student’s Dictionary (2003, in its second edition), and Contemporary Britain (2001).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain