HIH1420 - Understanding the Modern World

2017/8 Module description

StaffDr Gajendra Singh - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module is mandatory for all First-Year students. It will introduce you to the problems and forces which have shaped the modern world since the middle of the eighteenth century, such as nationalism, political ideologies, colonialism and empires, science, technology and medicine, the family, religion and secularisation, industrialisation, class, consumerism, popular protest and globalisation. You will analyse these topics through the study of primary and secondary sources in bi-weekly seminars and study groups. The broader context will be provided with the help of two lectures per week.

Module aims

This module introduces students to some of the most important developments in the creation of the modern world since the middle of the eighteenth century. It focuses mainly upon Europe, but also explores the European impact on the wider world and the evolution of European-influenced global developments. In particular, the module explores the key distinguishing features of modern societies, things which we often take for granted but which have often emerged very recently and have underpinned the history of the modern world. This is achieved through the examination of three main themes: the creation of modern nations and states, new forms of identity and society, and the rise of globalism.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Identify the main themes in the history of modern Europe and its relations with other cultures
  • 2. Interpret the specific themes studied in seminar and coursework within the overall framework of developments in European and world history in this period

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Explain, both orally and in written form, large themes over a relatively long span of history
  • 4. Evaluate the views of different historians on a topic
  • 5. Formulate a historical argument, based on professional standards of evidence use

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Work both independently and in a group, including participating in oral seminar discussions
  • 7. Identify a topic, select, comprehend, and organise primary and secondary materials on that topic with some guidance from the tutor
  • 8. Produce to a deadline and in examination conditions a coherent argument

Syllabus plan

Week 1
Lectures:- General Introduction - what is the modern world?
** TOPIC - Introduction to Power and Governance **
Seminar:- Introduction to the Modern World
Week 2 Lectures:- The Enlightenment - Inventing the Modern World; Ancien Regimes to Modern States
(Study Group meeting)
Week 3 Lectures:- Reordering Europe - The Rise of the Modern State; The Rise of the Empire - How Imperialism shaped the Modern World
Seminar:- Nations, Nationalism and Nation States part I: The emergence of the state
Week 4 Lectures:- Economics and the Development of Capitalism; Modern Technologies of Power
(Study Group meeting)
Week 5 Lectures:- Law, Punishment and Social Order; Scientific Knowledge and Explanations of the Modern World
Seminar:- Nations, Nationalism and Nation States part II - States and Ideologies
Week 6 Lectures:- Liberal Democracy, Fascism and Communism; Modern Warfare & Warfare States
(Study Group meeting)
Week 7 Lectures:- Genocide/Ethnic Cleansing - Eliminating the 'Other'; Welfare States and Social Responsibility
Seminar:- Empires and Imperialism
Week 8 Lecture:- Decolonization and Postcolonial Governance - Democratization in the Extra-European World; Supra-nationalism - Thinking Beyond the State
(Study Group meeting)
Week 9 Lectures:- Contesting the State - Challenges to Modern Governance
** TOPIC - Introduction to Cultures and Societies **
Seminar:- Shaping Modern Family Life
Week 10 Lectures:- Population, Development and Environment; Individualism and Modernity
(Study Group meeting)
Week 11 Lectures:- Rise or Fall of Class; Gendering the Modern World
Seminar:- Science, Technology and Medicine

Week 12 Lectures:- Sexuality & 'Modern Sex'; The Modern Family
(Study Group meeting)
Week 13 Lectures:- Wealth & Poverty; Consumerism & Commodification
Seminar:- Religion, Secularism and Fundamentalism
Week 14 Lectures:- Race & Ethnicity; Nationalism & Belonging
(Study Group meeting)
Week 15 Lectures:- Religion and Secularisation; Rise of Fundamentalism
Seminar:- Industrialisation, Class and Consumerism
Week 16 Lectures:- Expressions of Modernity; Arts & Material Cultures
** TOPIC - Introduction to Global Histories **
(Study Group Meeting)
Week 17 Lectures:- The Imperial World System; Slavery in the Modern World
Seminar:- Belonging and Identity: Race and Ethnicity, Citizenship and Nationality
Week 18 Lectures:- Globalization and Cultural Imperialism; International Institutions and 'Neo-Imperialism'
(Study Group meeting)
Week 19 Lectures:- Environment and Social Change; Development, Aid and Global Economics
Seminar:- Globalization, Decolonisation and International Institutions
Week 20 Lectures:- Religion and Belief in Global Perspective; Global Conflict and the 'War on Terror'
(Study Group meeting)
Week 21 Lectures:- Human Rights - A New Global Discourse?; Global Protest Movements
Seminar:- Protest and Dissent
Week 22 Lectures:- Diasporas & Migration - Citizens of the World?; GENERAL CONCLUSION - How do historians view the modern world?
(Study Group meeting)

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 teaching activities44LECTURES
Scheduled learning and teaching activities24SEMINARS
Independent study232

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
2 Essay plans 500 words 1-8Verbal and written feedback
Essay (Term 1)1,500 words1-8Verbal and written feedback

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
Essay (Term 2)331,500-word 1-8Verbal and written feedback
Exam672-hour unseen1-8Verbal and written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Referral/deferral period.
ExamExam1-8Referral/deferral period.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism in the Modern World rev. ed. (London: Verso, 2006)

Christopher Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004) Asa Briggs & Patricia Clavin, Modern Europe: 1789 to the Present 2nd ed. (London: Pearson, 2003)

M. E. Chamberlain, Decolonialization: the Fall of the European Empires (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999)

John Darwin, After Tamerlane: the Rise and Fall of Global Empires 1400-2000 (London: Penguin, 2008)

Ronald Findlay & Kevin O'Rouke, Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the Economy in the Second Millennium (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009)

Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America's Advance through twentieth Century Europe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P., 2005)

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolutions, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire, The Age of Extremes (London: various, 1988-98)

Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1870 (Cambridge: CUP, 1992) David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (London: Abacus, 1999)

Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (London: Penguin, 1998)

Andrew Porter, European Imperialism (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994)

Mark Shaw, War and Genocide: Organised Killing in Modern Society (London: Polity, 2003) (Cambridge: CUP, 2011)

Gary Thorn, The End of Empires: European Decolonialization 1918-1980 (London: Hodder, 2001)

Bryan Turner, Religion and Modern Society: Citizenship, Secularization and the State

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