History of Great Britain

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leum, makes it the llth largest industrial grouping in the world and the second largest in Europe. Five British firms are among the top 25 European Community companies.


7. The Modern British Army


The strength of the regular armed forces, all volunteers, was nearly 271,000 in mid-1993 133,000 in the Army, 79,300 in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and 58,500 in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. There were 18,800 women personnel 7,500 in the Army, 6,800 in the RAF, and 4,400 in the Royal Navy.

British forces main military roles are to:

  • ensure the protection and security of Britain and its dependent territories;
  • ensure against any major external threat to Britain and its allies; and
  • contribute towards promoting Britains wider security interests through the maintenance of international peace and security.


Most of Britains nuclear and conventional forces are committed to NATO and about 95% of defence expenditure to meeting its NATO responsibilities. In recognition of the changed European security situation, Britains armed forces are being restructured in consultation with other NATO allies.

Under these plans, the strength of the armed forces is being cut by 22%, leaving by the mid-1990s some 119,000 in the Army, 70,000 in the RAF and 52,500 in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. This involves reductions in main equipment of:

  • three Tornado GR1 squadrons, four Phantom squadrons, two Buccaneer squadrons and part of a squadron of Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft;
  • 12 submarines, nine destroyers and frigates and 13 mine
  • countermeasures ships; and
  • 327 main battle tanks.


Civilian staff employed by the Ministry of Defence will be reduced from 169,100 in 1991 to 135,000.

As a member of NATO, Britain fully supports the Alliances current strategic concept, under which its tasks are to:

  • help to provide a stable security environment, in which no country is able to intimidate or dominate any European country through the threat or use of force;
  • serve as a transatlantic forum for Allied consultations affecting member states vital interests; deter from aggression and defend member states against military attack; and
  • preserve the strategic balance within Europe.







8. The Two Lessons


This section of the paper is dedicated to the development of two lessons for the “Regional Geography of Great Britain” course to be taught in schools. The chosen topics are “Customs and Traditions of Great Britain” and “American English”.

Both lessons are intended for 45-50 minutes duration and are of so-called “combined” type, according to the generally accepted terminology in Russia. The principal scheme of such a lesson can be represented in the following way:


1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Review of the previous studies (5-7 minutes)

3) New studies (approx. 15-20 minutes)

4) Systematization of the new knowledge and training for its application in practice (15-

20 minutes)

5) Homework (1-2 minutes)


Lesson organization and review of previous studies are not thoroughly considered here since they depend upon the composition and structure of the whole course, and their development would require knowledge of the previous and the following lessons. We concentrate our attention on the “New studies” and “Systematization of the new knowledge and training for its application in practice”. The main goal of both lessons is to introduce new information and expand students vocabulary by learning some specific words and expressions related to the considered topics.


8.1. “Customs and Traditions of Great Britain”


The studies of the customs and traditions of Great Britain here are supposed to be carried out in calendar order, which means that introduction of customs and traditions should begin with winter events and go on throughout the whole year, from December until November.


Lesson topic: “Customs and Traditions of Great Britain”

Lesson goal: general study of the British customs and traditions

Lesson structure:


1) Lesson organization (2-3 minutes)

2) Particular review of the previous studies (4-5 minutes)


(We accept) that the previous lesson was dealt with the civic customs of GB.


A student reports a result of his work done on the material of the previous topic that was studied in class. He/she is supposed to talk fluently by memory and speak about one-two civic customs that heshe founds to be remarkable. The report is followed by a brief discussion (3-4 minutes) Approximate variant of the report is as follows:


“Some historical and colorful customs belong essentially to a particular town or community because they sprang, originally, from some part of the local history, or from some deep-seated local tradition. No doubt, such customs, along with various religious customs and traditions, attached to certain calendar dated, constitute the soul of British social culture and are of great interest for a researcher.

At Lichfield, a festival commonly called the Greenhill Bower and Court of Array takes place annually in late May or June. This is really two customs, of which the first the Bower is said to run back to the time of King Oswy of Northumbria, who founded Lichfield in A.D. 656. In the Middle Ages, the city guilds used to meet at Greenhill, carrying flower garlands and emblems of their trades. Now the Bower ceremonies have become a sort of carnival, wherein lorries carrying tableaux, trade floats, decorated carts, and bands pass cheerfully through streets profusely adorned with flowers and greenery.

The second part of the custom is the meeting of the Court of Array and the inspection of the ancient suits of armour which the city was once obliged by law to provide. By Act passed in 1176, every freeman between the ages of 15 and 60 had to keep a sufficiency of arms and armour, and maintain them in good condition and ready for use. He had also to be able to handle them efficiently himself. Every county had to have its Court of Array whose duty was to see that these regulations were duly carried out by the freemen, and to hold periodical inspections of the weapons and suits of armour provided by them”.


3) New studies (approximately 20 minutes)


This part of the lesson is dedicated to the present topic: the Winter holidays. It basic part represents a text which must be read and immediately translated by paragraphs, one paragraph by every student, one by one. The text is approximately following:


“The Christmas Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on 25 December, as well as in the most of European countries. Pope Julius I (A.D. 337-352), after much inquiry, came to the conclusion that a very old tradition giving 25 December as the right date of the Birth of the Lord was very probably true. This date already had a sacred significance for thousands of people throughout the Roman Empire because it was the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, and also the chief festival of the Phrygian god, Attis, and of Mithras, the soldiers god, whose cult was carried to Britain and many other countries by the Roman army. In the barbarian North, also, the long celebration of Yule was held at this period. The Christian Church, therefore, following its ancient practice of giving Christian meaning to pagan rituals, eventually adopted 2 December for the Christmas Day.

Many of the British modern Christmas customs and traditions are directly derived from pagan ceremonies belonging to ancient midwinter feasts. One of the oldest is probably the decoration of houses with greenery. Evergreens, which are symbols of undying life, were commonly used to adorn the dwellings of forefathers, and their sacred buildings, at the time of the winter solstice, and they have been so used ever since.

The curious custom of kissing under the mistletoe seems to be altogether English in origin, and to appear in other European countries only when Englishmen have taken it there. It has almost vanished nowdays, but can still be met in the northern regions of England. The kissing bough, the lovely garland that used to hang from the ceiling of the living room in so many houses before the coming of the Christmas tree, had a bunch of mistletoe attached to its base. It was a crown, or a globe, of greenery, adorned with lighted candles, red apples, rosettes and ribbons, with the mistletoe hanging below. Sometimes small presents were suspended from it. The Christmas tree surepceeded it in many homes in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it never faded away altogether.

The Christmas tree came originally from Germany and went to America with German settlers before it reached the British Isles in the first half of nineteenth century. The first Christmas tree in Britain is believed to be set up at a children party in 1821. By 1840 the custom became quite well-known in Manchester, but what really established the Christmas tree and made it one of the British cherished Christmas customs was the setting-up by Prince Albert of a Christmas tree at Windsor castle in 1841. With little more than twenty