• University of Reading

Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-78

Explore the history of punk and the role played by youth subcultures in contemporary history, while making your own punk fanzine.

2,677 enrolled on this course

Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-78
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

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Discover what 70s punk subculture can tell us about contemporary history

In the late 1970s a new youth subculture emerged in the UK. This, of course, was punk, and a cultural revolt was underway.

On this course, you will learn about the emergence of punk and its diverse range of meanings. You’ll use that lens to explore how youth cultures provided space for people to reimagine, discover and challenge the society and communities in which they were coming of age.

You’ll explore punk as a tool of expression for young people, and how it related to politics and events. You’ll consider punk’s relationship with gender, class, race, sexuality and protest, drawing comparisons with the youth culture of today.

Experience 70s youth culture by making your own punk fanzine

Through studying punk culture in 70s Britain, you’ll come to understand what we can learn about history through youth culture.

This history course also has an emphasis on the creative side of punk. You’ll explore DIY punk design and writing, epitomised by fanzines. You’ll learn how to create a real-life fanzine of your own, all the way to publishing and distribution. This will help strengthen your communication skills and encourage independent thought and creativity.

Discover research methods

By investigating the history of Punk, the course offers a creative resource for you to explore and develop your critical thinking skills and will prepare you for study in higher education.

Studying History develops expertise that can enable you to gain highly sought-after transferable skills.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds (SINGING) I think although obviously Punks not emerging today, you do have very, very clear parallels or, if not continuities, from Punk. I think you could probably hold up one message from any sort of protest or demonstration from the ’70s and you could hold it against one from today and you’d probably get really similar images. If you put them both in black and white, maybe you wouldn’t tell the difference.


  • Week 1

    The people, music, ideas, writing, zines, art and design

    • Welcome

      Welcome! Meet Professor Matthew Worley, your Lead Educator and find out what you'll discover and create over the next two weeks.

    • The people

      Punk reflected and embodied the mood of the mid-1970s. Meet the originators and explore the defining events which led to the spread of punk across the UK.

    • Music

      Sex Pistols were the pivot around which British punk revolved but the music was a diverse range of sounds. Discover the 'big five' and the lesser known bands of the punk underground, and share your thoughts in a review.

    • Writings

      Fanzines were the perfect medium for punk. Find out why, before expressing your own thoughts and values through experimentation with different zine formats.

    • Through images

      Punk's style pushed the limits of popular culture through critique, experimentation and innovation. Discuss the impact on fashion, art and design before developing the imagery in your own zine.

    • Review and reflect

      This week you explored the people, music, design and zines of punk. Next week you'll explore how punk confronted moral and cultural convention, as well as share and discuss your own zine.

  • Week 2

    Changing society

    • Welcome to week 2

      Discover what you'll cover in Week 2 and meet Professor Rachel Garfield who talks about the opportunities punk opened up.

    • Gender and sexuality

      Punk's attitude to gender and sexuality had a significant impact on society. Find out how and listen to Jordan talk about her experience of the 1970s.

    • Class and money

      Britain's concept of class and the power held by different sections of society changed because of punk. Reflect on the movements still creating waves today.

    • Race and protest

      Punk confronted racism in 1970s Britain, through Rock against Racism, but it's impossible to ignore its links with far right groups. Investigate parallels with today's polarised politics.

    • Punk today

      Listen to an undergraduate student at the University of Reading express her opinions on the parallels between punk and today before taking the opportunity to share your own views.

    • Your DIY zine

      Your opportunity to collate the work you've done throughout the course into fanzine format.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the relationship between punk and the socio-economic and political context of the time.
  • Explore the iconography and styles that portray 'punk'.
  • Discuss the legacy of punk - is it altogether positive and progressive or a more complex mixture of good and bad?
  • Apply punk's DIY ethos to create and publish a zine reflecting your own creativity and original thinking.
  • Critique punk's influence on society both in the 70s and today through your own research.
  • Engage with the diverse range of music, meanings and media associated with the punk movement.

Who is the course for?

This cultural studies course is aimed at students interested in studying contemporary history at university.

It will also interest those involved in punk subcultures in the 70s, or anyone with a broad interest in youth politics or the history of punk.

Who will you learn with?

Matthew Worley is professor of modern history at the University of Reading. He has written much on punk-related cultures, including No Future: Punk, Politics and British Youth Culture, 1976-84 (2017)

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.


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