Great Britain

Автор: Пользователь скрыл имя, 10 Февраля 2013 в 09:54, реферат

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and above five thousand small islands. Their total area is over 244 000 square kilometers. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively.

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and above five thousand small islands. Their total area is over 244 000 square kilometers. The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively.  
The British isles are separated from the European continent by the North Sea and the English Channel. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. The surface of the British Isles varies very much. The north of Scotland is mountainous and is called Highlands, while the south, which has beautiful valleys and plains, is called Lowlands. The north and west of England are mountainous, but all the rest - east, center and southeast - is a vast plain. Mountains are not very high. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain. (1343) 
There are a lot of rivers in GB, but they are not very long. The Severn is the longest river, while the Thames is the deepest and the most important one.  
The UK is one of the world’s smallest countries. The population of the country is over 87 million and about 80% of it is urban. The UK is highly developed industrial country. It’s known as one of world’s largest producers and exporters of machinery, electronics, textile, aircraft and navigation equipment. The UK is constitutional monarchy. In law, the Head of State is the Queen, but in practice, the Queen reigns, but does not rule. The country is ruled by the elected government with the Prime Minister at the head. The British Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. 
There are three main political parties in Great Britain: the Labour, the Conservative and the Liberal parties. The Liberal party is the ruling party nowadays.

British culture

Here are some of the things that struck me as a Dutch citizen who lived in the UK for about four years. I do not claim to give a correct, complete and comprehensive picture of the British culture. Regardless of your nationality, however, you may find some of these observations useful.

Please note: In May 2001 I moved from the University of Bradford, UK, to the University of Melbourne, Australia, and this page will no longer be updated. However, you may still find the information useful if you plan to study in the United Kingdom.

Humour and understatement

Humour is the cornerstone of the British society. It is used in numerous ways: to establish a positive atmosphere, to create a sense of togetherness, to bridge differences, to introduce risky ideas, to criticise, to show appreciation or contempt of a person. British people joke about everything including the queen, politicians, religion, themselves and you! You'd better get used to that. Humour is often combined with understatement. Depending on the tone "Not bad" can actually mean "very good" and "not bad at all" might be the highest praise you ever get from a Brit.

Indirect communication

In contrast to for instance Americans, Germans and Dutch, British people have a quite indirect communication style. They will not usually "tell you just the way it is to get things in the open." You will have to read between the lines to understand what they really mean. This can be very frustrating if you come from a culture, which has the motto "if you don't like it/me, why don't you just say so". Like the Japanese and the Chinese culture, the British culture is a high context culture. Words are not enough, you have to know the background and context to understand the message and interpret tone, expression and non-verbal behaviour.


In spite of the fact that Britain is still well known for its class society, relationships in the workplace and in an educational setting are very informal. Most people call their boss and other colleagues by their first names and tutors usually expect students to address them by their first names as well. In general, tutors, are very approachable and will often join you for a coffee in the break. Style of dress depends more on personal preference than on position or rank: don't be surprised to find lecturers in jeans or sweaters.

"No complaints" & patient

Unlike the Dutch, who are professional naggers, British people are not very likely to complain. They will swallow bad service or bad food at a restaurant, because they don't want to make a scene. They might therefore become very nervous if you try to voice your dissatisfaction. Criticism should also preferably be voiced in an indirect way. Otherwise it will only make your British counterpart very hostile and defensive and your criticism is unlikely to have any effect. The Brits are usually very patient and will queue for everything. It is best to imitate this behaviour. If you try to rush in or hurry someone, you will have to wait even longer.


Although the British are generally seen as being reserved, you will find that in the North of England (where I used to live), people are usually quite friendly. They will appreciate it if you make a chat about the weather or take an interest in local affairs. Especially as a man, you might have to get used to the fact that many (older) people address you as "Love". Don't worry, they don't have amorous intentions.

Polite & "quiet"

British are very polite. In a restaurant, you will have to say thank you when you get the menu, thank you when you place the order, thank you when get your dishes, thank you when the waiter takes away the plates and even thank you when you pay! You'll have to say "excuse me" if you want to pass someone and "I'm sorry" if you accidentally touch someone. British people even say sorry if you stand on their toes! They are also very "quiet" and keep to themselves. This can be hard if you want to make friends with them. It is a boon, however, if you are out with your own group or don't like noisy people.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland uses as its national flag the royal banner known as the Union Flag or Union Jack — technically the latter term, although the more common name for the flag, refers to its use as naval jack when flown at sea.[1]

The current design of the flag dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britainin 1801. It consists of the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England), edged in white, superimposed on the Cross of St Patrick (patron saint ofIreland), which are superimposed on the Saltire of Saint Andrew (patron saint ofScotland). Wales, however, is not represented in the Union Flag by Wales' patron saint, Saint David, as at the time the flag was designed Wales was part of the Kingdom of England.

Its correct proportions are 1:2.[citation neededHowever, the version officially used by the British Army modifies the proportions to 3:5, and additionally two of the red diagonals are cropped.

The flag was established by proclamation of James VI and I of Scotland andEngland:

"By the King: Whereas, some differences hath arisen between Our subjects of South and North Britaine travelling by Seas, about the bearing of their Flagges: For the avoiding of all contentions hereafter. We have, with the advice of our Council, ordered: That from henceforth all our Subjects of this Isle and Kingdome of Great Britaine, and all our members thereof, shall beare in their main-toppe the Red Crosse, commonly called St. George’s Crosse, and the White Crosse, commonly called St. Andrew’s Crosse, joyned together according to the forme made by our heralds, and sent by Us to our Admerall to be published to our Subjects: and in their fore-toppe our Subjects of South Britaine shall weare the Red Crosse onely as they were wont, and our Subjects of North Britaine in their fore-toppe the White Crosse onely as they were accustomed"


Political System of Great Britain (2)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy. It means that the sovereign reigns but does not rule.

Britain does not have a written constitution, but a set of laws.

Parliament is the most important authority in Britain. Technically Parliament is made up of three parts: the Monarch, the House of Lords; and the House of Commons. In reality the House of Commons is the only one of the three which has true power.

The monarch serves formally as head of state. But the monarch is expected to be politically neutral and should not make political decisions.

The present sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II. She was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953.

The House of Commons consists of Members of Parliament. There are 650 of them in the House of Commons. They are elected by secret ballot. General elections are held every five years. The country is divided into 650 constituencies. All citizens, aged 18 and registered in a constituency, have the right to vote. But voting is not compulsory in Britain. Only persons convicted of corrupt and certain mentally ill patients don't take part in voting.

There are few political parties in Britain thanks to the British electoral system. The main ones are: the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal / Social Democratic Alliance.

Each political party puts up one candidate for each constituency. The one who wins the most votes is elected MP for that area.

The party which wins the most seats in Parliament forms the Government. Its leader becomes the Prime Minister. His first job is to choose his Cabinet. The Prime Minister usually takes policy decisions with the agreement of the Cabinet.

The functions of the House of Commons are legislation and scrutiny of government activities. The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker. The Speaker is appointed by the Government.

The House of Lords comprises about 1,200 peers. It is presided by the Lord Chancellor. The House of Lords has no real power. It acts rather as an advisory council. 
It's in the House of Commons that new bills are introduced and debated. If the majority of the members are in favour of a bill, it goes to the House of Lords to be debated. The House of Lords has the right to reject a new bill twice.

But after two rejections they are obliged to accept it. And finally a bill goes to the monarch to be signed. Only then it becomes law.

Parliament is responsible for British national policy. Local governments are responsible for organizing of education, police and many others.

British Cuisine

Some people criticize English food. They say it's unimaginable, boring, tasteless, it's chips with everything and totally overcooked vegetables. The basic ingredients, when fresh, are so full of flavour that British haven't had to invent sauces to disguise their natural taste. What can compare with fresh pees or new potatoes just boiled and served with butter? Why drown spring lamb in wine or cream and spices, when with just one or two herbs it is absolutely delicious?

If you ask foreigners to name some typically English dishes, they will probably say "Fish and chips" then stop. It is disappointing, but true that, there is no tradition in England of eating in restaurants, because the food doesn't lend itself to such preparation. English cooking is found at home. So it is difficult to a good English restaurant with a reasonable prices.

In most cities in Britain you'll find Indian, Chinese, French and Italian restaurants. In London you'll also find Indonesian, Mexican, Greek... Cynics will say that this is because English have no "cuisine" themselves, but this is not quite the true. 


Education in Britain

In England and Wales compulsory school begins at the age of five, but before that age children can go to a nursery school, also called play school. School is compulsory till the children are 16 years old.

In Primary School and First School children learn to read and write and the basis of arithmetic. In the higher classes of Primary School (or in Middle School) children learn geography, history, religion and, in some schools, a foreign language. Then children go to the Secondary School.

When students are 16 years old they may take an exam in various subjects in order to have a qualification. These qualifications can be either G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education) or "O level" (Ordinary level). After that students can either leave school and start working or continue their studies in the same school as before. If they continue, when they are 18, they have to take further examinations which are necessary for getting into university or college.

Some parents choose private schools for their children. They are very expensive but considered to provide a better education and good job opportunities.

In England there are 47 universities, including the Open University which teaches via TV and radio, about 400 colleges and institutes of higher education. The oldest universities in England are Oxford and Cambridge. Generally, universities award two kinds of degrees: the Bachelor's degree and the Master's degree. 

Education in Great Britain: Higher Education (1)

There is a considerable choice of post-school education in Britain. In addition to universities, there are also polytechnics and a series of different types of assisted colleges, such as colleges of technology, art, etc., which tend to provide more work-orientated courses than universities.

Some of these courses are part-time, with the students being released by their employers for one day a week or longer periods.

Virtually all students on full-time courses receive grants or loans from the Government which cover their tuition fees and everyday expenses (accommodation, food, books, etc.).

Universities in Britain enjoy complete academic freedom, choosing their own staff and deciding which students to admit, what and how to teach, and which degrees to award (first degrees are called Bachelor degrees). They are mainly government-funded, except for the totally independent University of Buckingham.

There is no automatic admission to university, as there are only a limited number of places (around 100,000) available each year. Candidates are accepted on the basis of their A-level results. Virtually all degree courses are full-time and most last three years (medical and veterinary courses last five or six years).

Students who obtain their Bachelor degree (graduates) can apply to take a further degree course, usually involving a mixture of exam courses and research. There are two different types of postgraduate courses — the Master's degree (MA or MSc) and higher degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

Education in Great Britain: Higher Education (2)

For seven hundred years Oxford and Cambridge universities dominated the British education. Scotland had four universities, all founded before A. D. 1600. Wales only acquired a university in the 20th century; it consisted of four university colleges located in different cities (Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor, and Aberystwith). The first English university after Oxford and Cambridge (sometimes referred to as Oxbridge) was Durham, in the North of England, founded in 1832. The University of London was founded a few years later in 1836.

During the nineteenth century institutions of higher education were founded in most of the biggest industrial towns, like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield (sometimes called the Redbrick Universities). At first they did not have full university status but were known as university colleges; since 1945, however, all have become independent universities, and in recent years a number of other universities have been founded: Sussex, Essex, Warwick, and others. 
In the middle 60s there was a further new development. Some of the local technical colleges maintained by local authorities had gained special prestige. By 1967 ten of these had been given charters as universities. Many of them are in the biggest cities where there were already established universities; so now we have the University of Aston (Birmingham), Salford (close to Manchester), Strathclyde (Glasgow), Herriot-Watt University (Edinburgh), Brunei University (London).

When we add all these together we find that the number of universities in England increased within ten years from nineteen to thirty-six, and in Scotland from four to eight.

Oxford university is a federation of colleges, and it is impossible to understand its structure unless one first understands the nature and function of these colleges, which have no resemblance whatever with the institutions called "colleges" in America.

Oxford has twenty-three ordinary colleges for men, five for women. All these are parallel institutions, and none of them is connected with any particular field of study. No matter what subject a student proposes to study he may study at any of the men's colleges.

Each college has a physical existence in the shape of a dining-hall, chapel, and residential rooms (enough to accommodate about half the student membership, the rest living in lodgings in the town). It is governed by its Fellows (commonly called "dons"), of whom there are usually about twenty or thirty. The dons are also responsible for teaching the students of the college through the tutorial system. The Fellows elect the Head of the college (whose title varies from college to college).

The colleges vary very much in size and extent of grounds and buildings.

Colleges choose their own students, and a student only becomes a member of the University by having been accepted by a college. Students are chosen mainly on academic merit, but the policy of colleges in this respect varies from college to college. Some tend to be rather keen to admit a few men who are very good at rugby or some other sport, or sons of former students or of lords, or of eminent citizens, or of millionaires.

The colleges and university buildings are scattered about the town, mostly in the central area, though the scientific laboratories and the women's colleges are quite a long way out.

The university teachers are mostly Fellows of colleges, who may at the same time hold university appointments as lecturers or professors. Part of the teaching is by means of lectures and any student- may attend any university lecture. At the beginning of each term (there are three terms in the Oxford academic year) a list is published showing all the lectures being given during the term within each faculty, and every student can choose which lectures he will attend, though his own college tutor will advise him which lectures seem likely to be more useful. Attendance at lectures is not compulsory, and no records of attendance are kept.

Apart from lectures, teaching is by means of the "tutorial" system, which is a system of individual tuition organized by the colleges. Each Fellow in a college is tutor in his own subject to the undergraduates who are studying it. Each student goes to his tutors room once every week to read out an essay which he has written, and for an hour he and the tutor discuss the essay. A student does not necessarily go only to his own tutor but may be assigned to another don in his own college or in another college when he is studying some particular topic which is outside the special interest of his own tutor.

London, Capital of Great Britain      

London is the capital of Great Britain, its political, economic, and commercial centre. It is one of the largest cities in the world and the largest city in Europe. Its population is about 8 million.

London is divided into several parts: the City, Westminster, the West End, and the East End.

The heart of London is the City, its financial and business centre. Numerous banks, offices, and firms are situated there, including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, and the Old Bailey. Few people live here, but over a million people come to the City to work. There are some famous ancient buildings within the City. Perhaps the most striking of them is the St. Paul's Cathedral, the greatest of English churches. It was built in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren. The Tower of London was founded by Julius Caesar and in 1066 rebuilt by William the Conqueror. It was used as a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison. Now it is a museum.

Westminster is the governmental part of London.

Nearly all English kings and queens have been crowned in Westminster Abbey. Many outstanding statesmen, scientists, writers, poets, and painters are buried here: Newton, Darwin, Chaucer, Dickens, Tennyson, Kipling, etc.

Across the road from Westminster Abbey is Westminster Palace, the seat of the British Parliament. The Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament is famous for its big bell, known as "Big Ben". Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the Queen.

The West End is the richest and most beautiful part of London. It is the symbol of wealth and luxury. The best hotels, shops, restaurants, clubs, and theatres are situated there.

The Trafalgar Square is the geographical centre of London. It was named in memory of Admiral Nelson's victory in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The tall Nelson's Column stands in the middle of the square.

On the north side of the Trafalgar Square is the National Portrait Gallery. Not far away is the British Museum —  the biggest museum in London. It contains a priceless collection of ancient manuscripts, coins, sculptures, etc, and is also famous for its library.

There are a lot of factories, workshops, and docks in the East End.

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