MSSU Themed Semesters Research Guide

A guide of library resources from current and past themed semesters at Missouri Southern State University

The Great Britain Semester - MSSU 2016

Why Great Britain

Missouri Southern State University’s 20th annual themed semester focuses on Great Britain, consisting of England, Scotland, and Wales. (The term “United Kingdom” refers to Great Britain plus Northern Ireland.) Great Britain occupies the ninth largest island in the world with an area of about 80,000 square miles or roughly the size of Kansas. With a population of approximately 62 million, Great Britain is the world’s third most populous island after Java (Indonesia) and Honshu (Japan).

Great Britain’s importance is indisputable. It has the world’s fifth biggest economy, is a nuclear power, and holds a permanent seat on the United Nations’ Security Council. It has vibrant cities, scenic beauty, magnificent cathedrals, museums, and castles, and two prestigious universities – Cambridge and Oxford. Last year London’s Heathrow was the world’s sixth busiest airport. 

Britain has produced extraordinary contributions to global civilization. Consider these 20 examples:

  1.  Isaac Newton and classical physics
  2. Charles Darwin and evolutionary biology
  3. William Shakespeare, foremost dramatist
  4. Henry VIII and establishment of the Church of England
  5. Francis Drake and the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588)
  6. Winston Churchill and the war against Nazi fascism
  7. James Watt’s steam engine
  8. George Stephenson’s railroad
  9. Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccination
  10. William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery
  11. Florence Nightingale and modern nursing
  12. Emmeline Pankhurst and women’s suffrage
  13. Henry Stanley’s epic explorations of Africa
  14. Christopher Wren’s architecture
  15. George Frederick Handel’s Baroque music
  16. John Wesley’s Methodist movement
  17. William Booth’s Salvation Army
  18. The Beatles’ pop music
  19. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter phenomenon
  20. Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web 

Read MORE:

The Difference between the U.K., Great Britain, England, and the British Isles

There are key differences between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and England—names often used interchangeably.

Great Britain

Great Britain is an island that consists of three somewhat autonomous regions that include England, Scotland, and Wales. It is located east of Ireland and northwest of France in the Atlantic Ocean.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a country that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its official name is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are often mistaken as names of countries, but they are only a part of the United Kingdom.

The British Isles

The British Isles is another term altogether and encompasses Great Britain, the island of Ireland, and several other smaller islands, such as the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is not a part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, even though its Lord is the Monarch of the United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of countries that were formerly British colonies. Members of the Commonwealth of Nations recognize the United Kingdom Monarch as their own king or queen, but remain politically independent.

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