HIC1009 - European History: politics and society since 1500

2021/2 Module description

StaffDr Martha Vandrei - Convenor
Dr Jeremy DeWaal - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This introductory module explores themes, ideas, and developments in history and historiography that are fundamental to understanding the past and its study. It does so through a chronological framework that maps onto key points in British and European history and scholarship: from debating the Reformation, to Enlightenment and notions of progress, to theories of nationalism and the unification of Germany and Italy, on to contemporary history and postmodernism. Within this framework, you will analyse key ideas, events, and individuals, as well as debate approaches taken by other scholars, past and present.

Module aims

This module aims to introduce you to some of the foundational concepts, key events, and important individuals in European history. Mirroring the long chronologies of other core modules, you will gain insight into developments in European society and culture, while also attaining a foundational understanding of the general overview of European history from the Reformation onward. You will gain the ability to make connections between the core modules at first-year. This general understanding will give you a good grounding to look in greater detail at some of these and later events in the rest of your degree. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major events and ideas in European history and historical scholarship
  • 2. Discuss the approaches historians have taken to key events in European history and the debates surrounding them
  • 3. Critically reflect on these debates and formulate original understandings

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Identify and discuss multiple perspectives and competing interpretations
  • 5. Make connections across time and space
  • 6. Read and critically interrogate source material, both historical and contemporary
  • 7. Engage reflexively in historiographical debates

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. With guidance, select and digest academic literature relevant to the topic under study
  • 9. Organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument in writing
  • 10. Communicate ideas orally and respond to the arguments of others in an appropriate manner
  • 11. Communicate complex academic ideas to a non-specialist audience and reflect on those experiences

Syllabus plan

The first lecture will introduce you to the most foundational concept of all: time. From this we will begin to debate the act of periodisation and the notion of modernity. In the next ten weeks, lectures and seminars will focus on key points in European history and the fundamental concepts that attach to them as ‘modernity’ emerges. You will explore topics such as: Religion/Reformation; Enlightenment/Progress; Revolution; Party politics; nations and nationhood. Taking in a later chronology Term 2 will draw on knowledge and skills gained in Term I, and you will gain a more in-depth understanding of recent and emerging areas of scholarship, especially the cultural turn; postcolonialism; gender; lifecycles; the history of emotions; contemporary history and debates around historical interpretation.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures – these provide the main outline of the module.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars – these provide opportunity for student-led discussion of the module themes and group work.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Discursive workshop – close reading and discussion
Guided Independent Study246Seminar and workshop preparation, and assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practice Examination2 hours1,5,7,8,9Oral feedback from seminar leader
Group debate and student-led discussionEquivalent to 30 minutes group presentation1-7,10Oral feedback from seminar leader

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Historiographical essay351500 words1-9Written feedback, and option for oral feedback
Examination551.5 hours1-9Written feedback, and option for oral feedback
Participation10Continuous1-11Oral feedback and opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Historiographical essayHistoriographical essay1-9Referral/deferral period
Examination Examination 1-9Referral/deferral period
ParticipationRepeat study or mitigation1-11N/a

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to redo the assessment(s) as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Bentley, M (ed), Companion to Historiography (1997)
  • Bethencourt, F Racisms: from the Crusades to the Twentieth Century (2013)
  • Blanning, T.C.W.  The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe, 1660-1789 (2002)
  • Blanning, T.C.W. The Pursuit of Glory: Europe, 1648-1815 (2008)
  • Bourke,J What it Means to be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the present (2011)
  • Collingwood, R.G. The Idea of History (1946)
  • Colley, L Britons: Forging the Nation (1993)
  • Evans, R In Defense of History (1997)
  • Fichtner, P.S.The Habsburg Monarchy, 1490-1848 (2003)
  • Hunt, L. The French Revolution and Napoleon (2017)
  • Jordanova,L.J History in Practice (2006)
  • Lovejoy, A.O  The Great Chain of Being (1936)
  • Mazower, M Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (1998)
  • McMahon D. and Moyn S. (eds), Rethinking Modern European Intellectual History (2013)
  • Outram, D.  The Enlightenment (2012)
  • Rublack, U. Reformation Europe (2017)
  • Stedman-Jones, G. Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion  (2016)

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

European history, themes, concepts, culture, society

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