HIH1420 - Understanding the Modern World

2019/0 Module description

StaffDr Hao Gao - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module 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 you 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 modern world history

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

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • General Introduction - what is the modern world?
  • Introduction to Power and Governance, including the Enlightenment - Inventing the Modern World; Ancient Regimes to Modern States; Reordering Europe - The Rise of the Modern State; The Rise of the Empire - How Imperialism shaped the Modern World; Economics and the Development of Capitalism; Modern Technologies of Power; Law, Punishment and Social Order; Scientific Knowledge and Explanations of the Modern World; Liberal Democracy; Fascism; Communism; Modern Warfare & Warfare States; Genocide/Ethnic Cleansing - Eliminating the 'Other'; Welfare States and Social Responsibility; Decolonization and Postcolonial Governance - Democratization in the Extra-European World; Supra-nationalism - Thinking Beyond the State; Contesting the State - Challenges to Modern Governance
  • Introduction to Cultures and Societies, including shaping Modern Family Life; Rise or Fall of Class; Gendering the Modern World; Sexuality & 'Modern Sex'; The Modern Family; Wealth & Poverty; Consumerism & Commodification; Race & Ethnicity; Nationalism & Belonging; Religion and Secularisation; Rise of Fundamentalism; Expressions of Modernity; Arts & Material Cultures
  • Introduction to Global Histories, including the Imperial World System; Slavery in the Modern World; Globalisation and Cultural Imperialism; International Institutions and 'Neo-Imperialism'; Environment and Social Change; Development, Aid and Global Economics; Religion and Belief in Global Perspective; Global Conflict and the 'War on Terror'; Human Rights - A New Global Discourse?; Global Protest Movements; Diasporas & Migration - Citizens of the World?
  • General Conclusion - How do historians view the modern world?

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 teaching44Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching24Seminars
Guided independent study232Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
2 essay plans 500 words each1-8Oral 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 1)252000 words1-8Oral and written feedback
Essay (term 2)252000 words1-8Oral and written feedback
Examination502 hour unseen1-8Oral 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
Two essays (2000 words each)Two essays (2000 words each)1-8Referral/Deferral period
Examination2 hour unseen examination1-8Referral/Deferral period

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 submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

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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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Modern history, European history, world history

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