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History, Politics and International Relations

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History, Politics and International Relations

BA
  • UCAS code VLN1
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

This joint degree offers a combination of disciplines which allows you to gain a greater understanding of both past and present.

Studying History is exciting and rewarding; it encourages you to appreciate the human experience in other places and at other times. Exploring what people have felt, thought and done in the past expands our self-awareness. It will help to satisfy your curiosity about the past, acquire understanding of specific periods and problems, and make discoveries.

Our internationally renowned academics are developing the very latest thinking on historical problems; this cutting edge knowledge informs the curriculum and will enhance your learning experience. By studying History at one of the largest and most influential departments in the country you will be able to choose from an exceptionally broad range of subjects, enabling you to spread your studies across the medieval and modern worlds, from Ancient Rome through to modern China, from Saladin through to Margaret Thatcher.

Politics and International Relations looks at political ideas and processes, as well as global issues such as war and security, diplomacy and development. You will gain a solid foundation in politics, the history of international relations and IR theory, studying subjects such as democracy, decolonisation, democratisation, international organisations, foreign-policy making, human migration and human rights. As you progress, the flexible nature of the course allows you to specialise in those aspects of domestic politics, political theory and international relations that most interest you, for example, the recent global economic crisis, changes in the European Union, human migration and the threats posed by terrorists and new communications technologies. Ours is an active and engaged student community, and there are opportunities to take part in debating, Model United Nations and party political societies on campus.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • Develop research, communication and analytical skills.
  • Gain expertise in medieval and modern history.
  • Study democratisation, foreign policy-making, human migration or human rights.
  • Work with academics in leading research centres, such as the Centre for South Asian Studies.
  • Pursue your interests with a wide choice of modules.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • History in the Making is Royal Holloway's first year foundation History module. This module covers the broad sweep from antiquity to the modern day, but it is not intended to provide a straightforward narrative. Instead, this module introduces our first-year students to an array of different topics and themes - from the rise of Christianity to the rise of modern nation states - that they will encounter throughout their degree. How have historians discussed themes like Renaissance, Revolution or Gender? What kinds of sources have they used? How do such ideas influence our understanding of historical change? And how has this shaped public debate and public history beyond the academy? Although titled “History in the Making”, this module might easily have been called “Historians in the Making”, providing our students with the skills, methods and critical approach to the past that will prove essential to successfully completing a university History degree.

  • This module offers a broad introduction to theory and history in international relations since 1870. You will look at a variety of different theoretical lenses, ranging from orthodox to critical perspectives, in order to understand events from the collapse of the Bismarckian European order and the origins of World War 1 to the contemporary War on Terror. Along the way you will also explore the origins and the end of the Cold War, decolonisation and the End of Empire, the rise of international institutions, humanitarian intervention and new security issues.

  • This module will introduce you to the academic study of politics and to the ‘real world’ of contemporary politics. As a foundational course, it will give you all the essential tools to understand the nature of politics and analyse the way different political systems work. You will be introduced to key concepts such as politics, power, rights, ideologies, democracy and representation, and will learn about the different actors, institutions and processes that make up politics today.

Year 2
  • This second-year module gives students the opportunity to write an extended essay on a subject of their own choosing separate from their various Survey Module and Further Subject taught modules. The essay is intended to facilitate and develop the student's powers of independent thought and research, and to help prepare students for their final year dissertation. Students select their topic in discussion with their academic supervisor, who will provide regular guidance across the year.

Year 3. You will take one of the following:
  • In the final year of our History degree, students are asked to complete a dissertation – an extended piece of independent work based on original and sustained primary source research. This may sound a little daunting, but the dissertation is the culmination of the research skills that students have learned over the module of their degree and is a great opportunity to pursue independent research and write about a subject they feel passionate about, supported by an academic supervisor whose expertise matches the chosen field. This is the student’s chance to make a real contribution to history.

  • The dissertation offers you the opportunity to pursue independent research in a topic of your own choosing with the support of an academic supervisor working one-to-one with you. You will develop your own research question and research strategy, explore the scholarly debates surrounding your topic, and advance your own thesis that interprets or challenges the way your topic has been understood. You are encouraged to use a variety of quantitative or qualitative methods and theoretical approaches as appropriate to the field you are exploring.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • This sweeping module introduces students to the dramatic story of the ancient world, from the classical Greeks and Romans to the rise of Christianity and Islam. Throughout this wide-ranging module, we will explore the values these societies expressed in their own words (read in translation), debate the latest scholarship, and assess the ancient legacies that shaped our modern age.

  • This module investigates the origins of our ideas about human rights and duties, revolution and democracy, consent and liberty. Key original texts are studied, ranging from Plato and Aristotle in the ancient world to Machiavelli, More, Hobbes, Locke and the Enlightenment in the transition from the early modern to the modern world. The module takes a wide view of the boundaries of ‘European Political Thought’, also introducing a number of political thinkers from the Islamic world like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya.

  • The early modern period is an age of change. It has been seen by many as the beginning of modernity, for it witnesses the consolidation of both national monarchies and the central state, the split of Christianity with the emergence of the Reformation, the spread of Islam to the Balkans, European expansion into the ‘new world,’ the introduction of print, and significant changes in patterns of consumption. This module will assess the impact that these processes had on the lives of ordinary early modern Europeans and on their ways of making sense of the changes in the world around them.

  • From the Enlightenment to the collapse of Communism, Europeans have struggled to make sense of and shape a continent in the grip of profound changes. Revolution, industrialisation and urbanisation transformed the face of politics and societies and spawned a series of new ideologies that continue to shape our world today. This module surveys a range of major events and dynamics from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first century, including the French Revolution, the emergence of the nation state, the decline of monarchy, the rise of mass politics, the emergence of the working classes and the middle classes, the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism, the Second World War and the Cold War.

  • The module introduces students to the history of the non-Western world over the past one hundred years or so. The lens through which this exploration takes place is provided by the lives and careers of some of the most influential non-Western political leaders, including advocate of non-violent resistance MK Gandhi, architect of Communist China Mao Zedong, South African anti-apartheid politician Nelson Mandela, Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, and Al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Their individual stories provide students with the starting point for exploring – both thematically and comparatively – key developments that have shaped their respective countries and the world in which we live today.

  • The period from c.400 to c.1500 saw Western Europe transform itself from the poorer part of the retreating Roman empire to a wealthy, sophisticated and dynamic society. This module explores some of the changes and developments that took place along the way and asks: What happened after the Roman empire fell? What was 'feudalism'? How were castles and Gothic cathedrals built? Why did the Pope become so powerful? What were the Crusades? Why did the Hundred Years’ War go on for so long? How did Europe survive after losing as much as half its population in the Black Death? And does this remote era have any relevance whatsoever to the modern world?

Year 2
  • At its zenith the British empire controlled over 1/4 of the world’s global real estate, and 1/5 of the world’s population. The economic, cultural and global impact of British colonialism is still very much apparent today - from contested borders and inter-state disputes, through languages and cultures, to the inequities in wealth and trade that exist between the prosperous ‘North’ and the underdeveloped ‘South’. Why, then, was imperial expansion so vehemently defended by its protagonists in the 19th Century? And what made colonial conquest, colonisation, and economic exploitation of non-European spaces feasible on such a global scale and for so long? These are the ‘big questions’ that underlie this module.

  • At the beginning of the twentieth century, the British Empire reached its zenith and yet, by the 1960s, it had all but disappeared. This module covers the history of Britain's expansion and contraction in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, from the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War to the achievement of African independence during the premiership of Harold Macmillan. Case studies focus on the Empire's presence in metropolitan life, the emerging Dominion powers; the contribution of the empire to the First World War; the rise of Indian nationalism; the Empire in the Middle East and South-East Asia; and the role of the Cold War in decolonisation.

  • The Roman Republic occupies a special place in the history of Western civilisation. In this module, we explore the history of the Republic from the foundation of Rome to the murder of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC. Students will examine the social and political pressures that drove Rome to conquer her Mediterranean empire and the consequences of that expansion for the Romans and for the peoples they conquered. The major literary sources will be discussed in translation, together with the evidence of archaeology and material culture which helps us to bring the ancient Romans to life.

  • For almost half a millennium, the Roman empire ruled over the ancient Mediterranean world. This module surveys the golden years of imperial Rome, from the achievement of sole rule by the first emperor Augustus (31 BC - AD 14) to the murder of Commodus (the white-clad emperor from Gladiator) in AD 192. We will analyse the political, social and cultural developments under the emperors of the first and second centuries AD, and reassess their achievements and legacies: Claudius’ invasion of Britain, Nero’s cultured tyranny, the terrible efficiency of Domitian, Trajan the conqueror, and the philosophical Marcus Aurelius.

  • Globalising Capital: Britain and the World, 1846 to 1913
  • The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1000-1250
  • The approach of this module is firmly comparative, and the geographical scope is wide: from the British Isles to the Crusader States. The period c.1000–1250 in Europe saw many key developments, including: the establishment of universities and of the Inquisition; the persecution of heretics, religious minorities and of perceived sexual deviants; and the growth of vernacular literature.

  • This module examines a period of momentous change, which witnessed the Great Famine and Black Death kill perhaps half of Europe’s population, the consequences of endemic warfare rampaging across the continent, and outbreaks of popular revolt involving exceptional brutality. Lectures and seminars trace the major developments in the period.

  • Late medieval Christian Europe was a world of contrasts. Plague was endemic, but those lucky enough to survive enjoyed improving standards of living that rested in many parts of Europe on a flourishing economic life. This naturally affected life in cities, opening up opportunities for many.

  • Between 1914 and 1947, Europe was in the grip of continent in what the French leader Charles de Gaulle termed a “Second Thirty Years War.” The First World War swept away much of the old order, triggering the collapse of the great continental empires and giving birth to a series of parliamentary regimes unstable new nation states. The module will examine Italian fascism; Nazism; Stalinism; the civil war and the origins of the Franco regime in Spain; and the Holocaust in a wider continental framework context that highlights the shared experience of Europeans from Moscow to Madrid and from Brussels to Berlin. In the first half of the twentieth Europe was the dark continent.

  • Europe has changed more since 1945 than at any other time in history. From a rubble-strewn, war-torn continent to one of the richest, most privileged parts of the world, the transformation has been remarkable. This module explores the major political developments of the second half of the twentieth century, including the post-war tensions between the superpowers which led to the onset and module of the Cold War in Europe; decolonisation and its consequences for the European powers; the collapse of the dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece; the oil crises, the demise of the Soviet Union; and the major post-Cold War events such as German unification and the wars in Yugoslavia.

  • This module looks at the major political developments that took place in different parts of Asia during the twentieth century.  Topics include:  the downfall of the Qing dynasty in China and the causes of the  political struggle there that resulted in the establishment of the Chinese Communist state in 1949; the modernisation of Japan under the Meiji state, the rise of Japanese imperialism and Japan’s post-Second World War recovery; the emergence of the nationalist movement in India and the processes that led to independence and partition in 1947, together with the post-1947 histories of different parts of South Asia.  

  • The Tudors represent a compelling family drama of powerful men and women, passion and betrayal, jealous rivalries and resentments played out over three generations. Yet beyond being good ‘box office’, the Tudors matter. This was a hugely formative period, of dramatic change, innovation and exploration. During the 16th century, institutions were created, laws passed, and precedents set that remain at the heart of the English polity today. The Tudor period saw the beginnings of the modern state, the development of national bureaucracy and administration, the establishment of the Church of England, and the genesis of a belief in national sovereignty. Drawing on the most recent historiography, this module will reconsider familiar assessments of these most infamous of monarchs.

  • The accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603 saw the union of the crowns and the establishment of the Stuart dynasty in England. During the century that followed, Britain’s political and constitutional foundations were forged. It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. The demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, left the monarchy changed forever. This module explores a century that would redefine the country and remains critical for understanding the nation today.

  • This module explores one of the most vibrant centuries in British history. Frequently seen as an age of liberty, luxury, elegance and excess it examines the period from the accession of the Hanoverian George I to the death of George IV at the end of the ‘Regency’ period. Yet beneath this commercially successful and fashionably polite society lay fears of riot and disorder, debt, poverty and rising crime rates. The module will ask: to what extent did the Georgian era witness the birth of modernity, consumer society, commercialised leisure and freedom of the press? Were the British a polite and commercial people, or an ungovernable rabble?

  • The period from the French Revolution to the end of the nineteenth century witnessed extraordinary transformations in just about every area of Europeans’ lives. New ideas of democracy, nationalism, socialism and women’s rights animated successive generations of radicals and produced the major revolutions of 1848. The rapid rise of industrialisation and new technologies like the railway changed the face of European cities, forced societies to confront problems like poverty and epidemic disease, and even altered basic conceptions of time and space. Artistic movements like romanticism and realism jostled with an emergent mass culture founded on widespread literacy, cheap books and daily newspapers. This module addresses these and other dimensions of the social and cultural history of Europe.

  • This module studies the birth of a new European order from the slow disintegration and eventual collapse of the Roman empire in the West to the beginnings of a new European empire under the Carolingians. The Germanic ‘barbarians’ who took over former Roman provinces and areas under Roman influence in what we now call Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain evolved between them a collection of states and a range of international relations that would shape European politics and society for centuries to come. This module explores the nature of the new states, their ruling elites, their religion and culture, and their relations (friendly and hostile) with the wider world of the old Byzantine empire and the new empire of the Islamic Caliphate.

  • The period 1000-1400 in western Europe witnessed the development of mass heresies, commanding wide and often international followings. This module will follow the responses to these from the preaching and launching of a crusade to the development of the Inquisition.

  • This module looks at the history of the non-western twentieth-century world from the vantage point of developments in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America: from empire-building to de-colonization and revolution in the Middle East, to intersections between politics and race in Southern Africa, to radical movements and US intervention in Latin America.

  • This module will provide an introduction to the main medical schools and writers from the Hippocratic Corpus to Galen, situating medical theory in the wider context of classical philosophy. It will also cover the reception of ancient medicine in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Arabic world.

  • The Western Powers and East Asia, 1839-1945
  • The Ottoman Empire was the largest and longest-surviving Muslim empire in history. This module explores the empire at its height, exploring topics including the political structure of the empire, the role of Islam and religious conversion, the place of the large non-Muslim population, Ottoman literature and culture, and the empire’s relations with Christian powers in Europe. Connecting Europe with Asia and Africa, the Ottoman Empire played a critical role in the emergence of the modern world, and the module engages with key questions in early modern global history, including the shift of economic and political power from east to west.

  • This module will examine superpower relations during the Cold War, including the collapse of the USSR and the period of uncertainty which followed. It takes a global comparative perspective in telling the history of international relations in the period 1945-91, and the development of a ‘New World Order’ to 1998.  Key themes will include nuclear tensions and the space race, and the proxy-wars waged in China, Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle-East and elsewhere in an era of ‘peace that is no peace’, as George Orwell predicted in August 1945.

  • The traditional historiography of western political thought has a tendency to jump from the Ancient Greeks to Augustine to Machiavelli, ignoring the wealth of ideas and theories to be found in between. This module seeks to supplement, and even challenge, this standard canon by paying attention to the ‘lesser’ thinkers that helped to shape the intellectual dismodule of the medieval and early modern periods. Beginning with Cicero, this module proceeds chronologically to explore the development of central debates about the role and nature of authority in society.

  • This module will examine the social, cultural, economic, political and religious development of Latin America from the first encounters to 1650 and the transatlantic connections between Spain, Portugal, West Africa and the Americas that resulted in the dynamic movement of people and ideas within and across the broader Iberian world. Themes include colonial encounters, religious change and local religiosity, Iberian and indigenous contributions to scientific knowledge, colonial hierarchies and inequalities, exploitation and enslavement, and strategies of resistance.

  • This module explores the transformation from empire to nation state in the Near and Middle East, from Greece to Iran, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We study the ambitious attempts at modernization undertaken by Middle Eastern governments, as the region came under intense pressure from western colonial powers; focusing on the Ottoman Empire, but with some reference to Qajar Persia. We then explore the impact of World War One, which shattered the region’s political order, and look at the different types of nation-state that emerged in its aftermath: colonial states like French-ruled Syria and Lebanon, independent monarchies such as Egypt and Iran, and the aggressively secular Republic of Turkey.

  • The Italian Renaissance is conventionally portrayed as a period of cultural and artistic renewal, economic prosperity and advanced political forms (republican governments). This module will verify the validity of this picture by considering the everyday experience of the men and women who inhabited the cities of Northern and Central Italy between 1350 and 1650 - political participation, class conflict, education, ways of inhabiting, material culture, crime and violence, gender relationships and sexual deviancy, devotion and the use of magic.

  • This module explores American economic hegemony from the Atlantic Charter to the end of the Great Recession. Topics in America’s long run ‘rise and fall’ include the Marshall Plan; the ‘Golden Age’ of western economic growth; the rise of welfare spending and economic planning; the fall of the Keynesian consensus; stagflation and the rise of the New Right; the rise of the less-developed economies; the end of the Soviet system; and the collapse of U.S. and UK banking.

  • This module offers an overview of the dramatic political, gender, cultural and social contours of life in the British Isles during the Victorian period, so often still seen as the height of British progress and self-confidence. Topics include the role and image of the monarchy; the decline of the aristocracy; the lives of the urban and industrial working classes; race and black lives; politics in the age of Gladstone and Disraeli; feminism and the Victorian women's movement; marriage, morality and Victorian sexuality; democracy, citizenship and the demand for the vote from various voices; religion, science and doubt; Victorian art and visual culture; and famine, loyalism and nationalism in Victorian Ireland.

  • This module seeks to investigate politics, society and culture in modern Britain during the sixty-year period encompassed between the outbreak of World War One in 1914 and Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1973. Topics include the impact of two world wars upon British cultural life and gender roles, the decline of Liberalism and rise of Labour, the growth of leisure and the mass media, post-war immigration, and the end of the British empire.

  • This module surveys the history of the United States of America from its origins as an independent nation to the end of Reconstruction in 1877 In charting this period of staggering growth, we will explore not only the establishment of political institutions and practices, but how the growing sectional crisis over slavery led to a bloody civil war (1861-1865) that threatened to tear asunder the fledgling American republic. In telling this story, the module will interrogate five core themes: Revolution, Democracy, Westward Expansion, Sections and Sectionalism, and the Crisis of the Union.

  • This module offers an overview of US history since 1900. It examines the social, cultural, economic and political contours of that history, incorporating topics such as westward expansion, industrialisation and urbanization, the progressive era, the First World War, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the rise of the New Right in the 1980s. The module considers how the War on Terror reshaped America’s foreign policy and impacted the subsequent election. It concludes with an examination of President Obama’s successful campaign and evaluates the role that racial and religious prejudice played in his election.

  • This module examines the difficult years of the early 20th century in Spain, including the civil war. It seeks to explain the causes of Spain's superstructural instability by looking not only 'top-down' at political tensions and economic contradictions, but also 'bottom-up' at the social and cultural fragmentation of Spain during this period.

  • This module adopts a thematic approach within a broadly chronological framework. It explores state and society under the rule of General Franco, and traces the processes of social, economic and cultural change which precipitated the crisis of the dictatorship and Spain's transition to democracy.

  • This module explores how China made its transition from isolated, self-contained 'Middle Kingdom' in the middle of the 19th century, to its present-day status as emerging global superpower. The module begins with the Opium Wars, then follows China's development, exploring the social stresses and political movements that led to the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in the Revolution of 1911, and the May Fourth Movement of 1919; the origins and effects of the Sino-Japanese War; the rise of Chinese Communism and its impact after Mao came to power, from the Long March to the Cultural Revolution; and China's progress since 1978 in balancing communist principles with market-driven economic growth.

  • The module explores perceptions of the holy man in different religions and traditions through the centuries, in the wider historical and cultural context. Through a variety of visual sources such as icons, reliquaries and other forms of sacred art, and textual sources (in translation), including scriptural, theological, philosophical, hagiographical, and hymnographical texts, students familiarise themselves with important aspects of sanctity and spirituality, assessing the place and role of holy men and women in society, both in East and West.

  • In antiquity, the history of science was not always a narrative of progress, and common beliefs and scientific theory were generally at odds. This module explores some of the unexpected twists and turns in the history of ancient science, for instance attempts at explaining phenomena such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions or even thunder or rainbows and considers topics including horoscopes, music theory, alchemy and atoms.

  • This module sketches the emergence of modern India (and its neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the mid-19th century to the present day. It includes such iconic events as the Great Mutiny of 1857, the Amritsar massacre, Gandhi’s Salt March, the Partition of India into Pakistan and India, and the recent slide of the region into the grip of competing religious fundamentalisms. Behind these events stand bigger questions: how has colonialism changed local social and political structures and to what extent can it be blamed for problems in the present? To what extent have the multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan societies of the South managed to fit in modern identity politics?

  • Beginning in the years shortly before the Fourth Crusade captured and sacked Constantinople in April 1204, this module traces the slow decline and fall of the Byzantine empire (also known as Byzantium). It will examine how the Byzantines regrouped in the successor state of Nicaea and slowly recovered from the disaster of 1204 and ends with the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453 and the fall of last Byzantine outpost of Mistra seven years later.

  • After the Fall of Byzantium almost all Greeks lived in the Ottoman Empire and the Frankish outposts in the Eastern Mediterranean.  This module will examine the history of the Greeks who remained under Ottoman and Frankish rule, and those who chose to try their luck abroad, laying the foundations of the first of many Greek diaspora communities linking East and West. The main part of the module will be devoted to a detailed overview of the political, social and cultural history of Greece and the leading Greek diaspora communities throughout the world during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  • This module scrutinises the main political, cultural, and social features and the historical “turning points” of this comparatively young nation state of Italy. Students will discover how the past shapes and influences the present in Italian culture and politics and will learn the challenge of the various unresolved issues and how the state reacts to them. It will also explore the forces behind the unification of the country in the 1800s, fascism, the impact of the Cold War, the high levels of politicisation in national life as well as the figure of Silvio Berlusconi who has dominated recent Italian politics.

  • The History of Cyprus from the Ottoman Conquest to the Present Day
  • From Venizelos to Varoufakis: The History of Greece from 1910 to the Present Day
  • This module spans the four centuries (AD 284 to 641) that marked the transformation from classical antiquity to the early medieval world. Those years witnessed the emergence of a Christian Roman empire, the barbarian migrations, the fall of imperial power in the west, and the rise of the Germanic kingdoms and the eastern Roman empire. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through both literary sources (in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • In AD 700, the very existence of Byzantium was in question. The Byzantine Empire had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital Constantinople was under threat. Yet the state revived and flourished so that by 1050 it was once more a major power stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why Byzantium survived, the profound social, cultural, religious and military changes that took place, and how the Byzantines interacted with the world around them.

  • In this period London grew from a town of 50,000 inhabitants to a capital city of some 200,000. The Reformation not only swept away ‘superstitious’ beliefs, but destroyed much of the fabric and topography of the medieval City - this module will consider how Londoners coped with these changes. How were Londoners fed and watered? How were crafts organised? How was the City governed?

  • Between 1553 and 1603, England faced the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth. Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures. Should Mary be considered a political pioneer and England’s most overlooked monarch? Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? This module urges students to reassess the traditional image of the Tudor monarchy.

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well.

  • Medicine and Society in Medieval Europe
  • “Martin didn't make the movement, the movement made Martin” noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon, but also still emphasise the vital leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them.

  • The slender flapper, cigarette holder in hand, off to cocktails or the flicks epitomizes the surface glamour of modernity. With an office job, a swimsuit, sex appeal and a voguish knowledge of Freud, she was ready for anything. But how real were her gains? This module explores the words and experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation, the constraints on women in war and peace, in work and at home, the expectations and their outcomes.

  • This module examines the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions, debates we see reflected in the literature of the time. The emphasis here is on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

  • This module covers the democratic Second Republic (1931-6) the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) and the first and most brutal phase (1939-53) of the Franco dictatorship. In Spain, as in Europe, the 1930s and 1940s saw the explosion of modern mass political mobilisation and antagonistic visions of national development vied for dominance.

  • In the first four decades of the twentieth century, the lands of Eastern Europe experienced a violent transformation. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires were replaced by fragile nation-states shaped by multi-ethnic tensions, nationalist awakenings, ethnic cleansing, the failure of parliamentary government and the appeal of authoritarianism. Throughout this tumultuous period, Eastern Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, and so this module provides an essential background to understanding the dynamics of the modern world.

  • This module explores the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. By the mid-18th century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought, and ongoing debates over progress and modernity interacted with the democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. This in turn fuelled 20th-century debates over liberalism and socialism, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation, and the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

  • This course will review the modern literature on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression Slump for Britain and America during the 1920s and 1930s. Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply in to depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery.

  • Over the past two centuries Muslim societies have been experiencing a major process of religious revival and reform, of which a dominant feature has been an increased emphasis on action in this life to achieve salvation. In following this course students will engage with the main figures in the movement from Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab to Usama bin Laden, and some of the main organisations from the Deoband School to al-Qaeda.

  • This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present. It deals with the development of the concept and the different approaches to studying genocide, from political science and anthropology as well as history, and explores different explanations for genocide, such as nation-building, race-theory, gender and social psychological aggression. Case studies include the colonization of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, and post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

  • This course provides a comprehensive treatment of the history of terrorism, beginning with its origins and etymology, tracing its evolution and development, to its employment as a form of political violence in the contemporary period. Students will study a diverse range of geographical and historical contexts through key case studies with a particular focus on: actors involved, the socio-political milieu, rationale for employing terrorism, causes and consequences of terrorist acts, political outcomes, and counter-terrorism measures.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how Roman leaders employed art and architecture to express their authority and values, from the competitive nobility of the late Roman Republic to the emperor Augustus and his successors. The module also explores how Rome’s Imperial expansion led to increasing contact with other cultures and religions which influenced the art and architectural style of ancient Rome and vice versa.

  • This module investigates the deep shifts in humanitarian ideas, practices, and organisations over the past century and a half: from imperial ‘civilising missions’, through war and post-1918 efforts to ‘organise the peace’, followed by the reassertion of humanitarian values after 1945 and the challenges of decolonisation, cold war, and then post-1990 ‘complex emergencies’. Students develop a critical understanding of humanitarianism as a changing concept and practice forged through the complex interactions of many actors and institutions in the crucible of national and international politics.

  • Sharīʿa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratization in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, explored through a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the 21st century, and addresses the fundamental questions of the relationship between sharīʿa law, the family and political power.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, products and ideas across the Atlantic basin between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Students will explore the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other.

  • Chinese women found their voice at the dawn of the modern era. Silent no longer, their roles in society changed fundamentally, taking on a complexity never seen before in Chinese history. This module brings these women into life, examining the impact they made not at the margins but as main actors, whose narratives are set against the background of Confucianism and the Chinese family and explored across the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the 19th to the late 20th century.

  • This course contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination over the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century, each one of these countries has struggled with similar problems after achieving some form of independence.

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. This module will explore the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it began.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Students explore how nationalism, decolonisation and revolution in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War, focusing on both the policies of the great powers and the agencies of the Southeast Asian states and peoples themselves.

  • This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences, all studied in translation. The upheaval of the French Revolution and dreams of radical transformation led in turn to socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology, and to fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence which haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values.

  • From Constantinople to Alexandria: Eastern Mediterranean Cities, 1798-1956
  • Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, won three successive general elections and occupied 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain. She divided popular opinion, domestically and internationally, and her historical significance is yet to be determined. What exactly was Thatcherism, and why is Margaret Thatcher's legacy still so controversial and contested? How far did Thatcherism succeed in its objectives, especially considering Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’?

  • From the Restoration of Charles II to the ‘Regency’ period under George IV, this module examines how men and women’s perceptions of themselves were moulded by their families and wider society, and the extent to which their experiences were determined by gendered perceptions of sexual, racial, and class differences. Students will have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of printed and digital primary sources and learn to present their work through a variety of mediums to academic and wider public audiences.

  • This module introduces students to the ways in which the ancients increased knowledge, both through geographical expansion and through technological advance. Students explore the reasons why ancient Greeks and Romans made contact with other peoples and how they described distant lands, both real and fictional. The technological inventions of antiquity are likewise examined, from military equipment such as burning mirrors and catapults to everyday gadgets such as vending machines and robots or the Antikythera mechanism, a complex analogue computer to calculate calendar dates.

  • The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or something else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This module adds a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present day.

  • In this module you will analyse the contemporary politics of the European Union and its institutions, amid the challenges of the triple crisis of economics, migration and Brexit. You will learn about the political history of European integration after 1949 and the contemporary theory of European integration. The first term will begin with an introduction to the European Union as a political system followed by an overview of the European Union's historical development. The second term will focus on contestation of the European Union and the theories that underpin this, in order to explain how the EU developed and the challenges that it faces. Topics will include Euroscepticism, party politics, public opinion, Brexit and EU-UK relations, and European Parliament elections. The theory sessions comprise of federalism, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism and the new institutionalisms.

  • Building on Introduction to International Relations, this module explores the key thinkers and debates in International Relations Theory. You will become familiar with a variety of ways of thinking about International Relations, engaging with questions about the nature of power, identity, and ethics in politics and how these interact in the international realm. The module is divided into two parts. In the first, you will examine the three foundational theoretical paradigms within International Relations – realism, liberalism, and Marxism. The second part explores newer critical approaches to International Relations theory, including constructivism, post-structuralism, feminism, and uneven ecological exchange.

  • I in this module you will develop an understanding of contemporary British politics. You will look at the ways in which British government has evolved, how it continues to operate, and why it operates in the way it does. You will consider the causes and consequences of major political change in Britain and examine the underlying assumptions upon which theoretical disputes in political science are based.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between states and markets, power and wealth. You will look at the key concepts and theoretical debates in International Political Economy, such as the globalisation of trade, finance, and production, the continued problems of development and democratic governance in the world economy, and emerging questions surrounding global flows, networks and spaces. You will consider the history of regimes, crises, and competing theories of political economy from the nineteenth century to the present day and examine how political institutions operate in international politics to regulate the creation of wealth, and who benefits from these arrangements.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of security studies as a subfield of International Relations. You will look at the issue of war and it is/should be fought. You will consider the theories of security and how these have changed, especially in an age of terrorism, and examine a wide variety of security including nuclear weapons, drone warfare, genocide, and gun control.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and limitations of global governance. You will look at the creation of international organisations and the role of states in this process, how different organisations are designed, and the effectiveness and functioning of different types of organisation. You will consider the role of international organisations in creating policy, pursuing organisational objectives, and altering the relations between actors at various levels. You will also examine the significance of major challenges for global governance, such as countering international terrorism, policing organised crime, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how citizens, politicians and the media interact across Western democracies during both electoral and governing periods. You will look at the production and consumption of political news, consider election campaigns and their effects, and examine contemporary debates in political communication, including ethical issues.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the most important features of the history of the development of the non-West. You will look at the distinctive political dynamics characterising the contemporary non-West and consider the thoughts of prominent non-Western political thinkers.

Year 3
  • This module spans the four centuries (AD 284 to 641) that marked the transformation from classical antiquity to the early medieval world. Those years witnessed the emergence of a Christian Roman empire, the barbarian migrations, the fall of imperial power in the west, and the rise of the Germanic kingdoms and the eastern Roman empire. These were centuries of dramatic change, accessible through both literary sources (in translation) and material evidence, and the legacy of those changes exerted a profound influence on later history.

  • In AD 700, the very existence of Byzantium was in question. The Byzantine Empire had lost almost half its territory to the Arabs and even its capital Constantinople was under threat. Yet the state revived and flourished so that by 1050 it was once more a major power stretching from southern Italy to Armenia. This module traces the reasons why Byzantium survived, the profound social, cultural, religious and military changes that took place, and how the Byzantines interacted with the world around them.

  • In this period London grew from a town of 50,000 inhabitants to a capital city of some 200,000. The Reformation not only swept away ‘superstitious’ beliefs, but destroyed much of the fabric and topography of the medieval City - this module will consider how Londoners coped with these changes. How were Londoners fed and watered? How were crafts organised? How was the City governed?

  • Between 1553 and 1603, England faced the unprecedented situation of being ruled by two successive queens regnant, Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth. Drawing on new sources and interpretations, this module challenges commonplace arguments about their relative successes and failures. Should Mary be considered a political pioneer and England’s most overlooked monarch? Should Elizabeth’s reign not be considered more a triumph of political spin and style than significance and substance? This module urges students to reassess the traditional image of the Tudor monarchy.

  • The triumph of the First Crusade (1099) resulted in the establishment of a Latin Christian community in the Levant for almost two hundred years. This module is primarily concerned to examine how the settlers maintained their hold on a region which was spiritually, economically and politically important to the Byzantine empire and the Muslim world as well.

  • Medicine and Society in Medieval Europe
  • “Martin didn't make the movement, the movement made Martin” noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon, but also still emphasise the vital leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. This module looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them.

  • The slender flapper, cigarette holder in hand, off to cocktails or the flicks epitomizes the surface glamour of modernity. With an office job, a swimsuit, sex appeal and a voguish knowledge of Freud, she was ready for anything. But how real were her gains? This module explores the words and experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation, the constraints on women in war and peace, in work and at home, the expectations and their outcomes.

  • This module examines the intellectual and cultural history of Russia in the turbulent years from the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s to the 1917 Revolution. During this period, Russian society experienced industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation and the erosion of traditional values and social distinctions, debates we see reflected in the literature of the time. The emphasis here is on the dynamism of Russia in this period as all sections of society struggled to cope with change on an enormous scale at dizzying speeds.

  • This module covers the democratic Second Republic (1931-6) the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) and the first and most brutal phase (1939-53) of the Franco dictatorship. In Spain, as in Europe, the 1930s and 1940s saw the explosion of modern mass political mobilisation and antagonistic visions of national development vied for dominance.

  • In the first four decades of the twentieth century, the lands of Eastern Europe experienced a violent transformation. The age-old Habsburg and Ottoman Empires were replaced by fragile nation-states shaped by multi-ethnic tensions, nationalist awakenings, ethnic cleansing, the failure of parliamentary government and the appeal of authoritarianism. Throughout this tumultuous period, Eastern Europe became the testing ground for modern political ideologies from imperialism and democracy to Nazism and Communism, and so this module provides an essential background to understanding the dynamics of the modern world.

  • This module explores the chief themes of modern political thought through its leading figures from Rousseau (c. 1750) to the present. By the mid-18th century the opulence fuelled by economic development had become increasingly central to social and political thought, and ongoing debates over progress and modernity interacted with the democratic ideals inspired by the American revolution. This in turn fuelled 20th-century debates over liberalism and socialism, the emergence of totalitarianism, the implications of imperialism and decolonisation, and the growing spectre of environmental catastrophe.

  • This course will review the modern literature on the causes and consequences of the Great Depression Slump for Britain and America during the 1920s and 1930s. Politicians, government advisors, and academics in the west were unable to explain why capitalist society was plunged so deeply in to depression, and they were also perplexed as to why the usual remedies failed to generate forces of recovery.

  • Over the past two centuries Muslim societies have been experiencing a major process of religious revival and reform, of which a dominant feature has been an increased emphasis on action in this life to achieve salvation. In following this course students will engage with the main figures in the movement from Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab to Usama bin Laden, and some of the main organisations from the Deoband School to al-Qaeda.

  • This module examines the occurrence of genocide from the colonial period to the present. It deals with the development of the concept and the different approaches to studying genocide, from political science and anthropology as well as history, and explores different explanations for genocide, such as nation-building, race-theory, gender and social psychological aggression. Case studies include the colonization of Australia and North America, the Herero genocide, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Stalin’s Great Terror, and post-1945 genocides of indigenous peoples, Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

  • This course provides a comprehensive treatment of the history of terrorism, beginning with its origins and etymology, tracing its evolution and development, to its employment as a form of political violence in the contemporary period. Students will study a diverse range of geographical and historical contexts through key case studies with a particular focus on: actors involved, the socio-political milieu, rationale for employing terrorism, causes and consequences of terrorist acts, political outcomes, and counter-terrorism measures.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how Roman leaders employed art and architecture to express their authority and values, from the competitive nobility of the late Roman Republic to the emperor Augustus and his successors. The module also explores how Rome’s Imperial expansion led to increasing contact with other cultures and religions which influenced the art and architectural style of ancient Rome and vice versa.

  • This module investigates the deep shifts in humanitarian ideas, practices, and organisations over the past century and a half: from imperial ‘civilising missions’, through war and post-1918 efforts to ‘organise the peace’, followed by the reassertion of humanitarian values after 1945 and the challenges of decolonisation, cold war, and then post-1990 ‘complex emergencies’. Students develop a critical understanding of humanitarianism as a changing concept and practice forged through the complex interactions of many actors and institutions in the crucible of national and international politics.

  • Sharīʿa law (Islamic law) is an important but widely misunderstood phenomenon that is central to several contemporary political controversies, including democratization in the Muslim world, political Islam and radical Islamism, and the status of the Muslim diaspora in the west. This module helps students understand sharīʿa law as an evolving legal tradition, explored through a variety of historical contexts from the late Middle Ages until the 21st century, and addresses the fundamental questions of the relationship between sharīʿa law, the family and political power.

  • This module examines the interconnected world created by the dynamic movements of people, plants, animals, products and ideas across the Atlantic basin between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The primary focus is on the lands claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese empires, while also analysing their entangled relationships with the emerging British, French and Dutch empires. Students will explore the social, cultural and religious transformations taking place on both sides of the Atlantic as indigenous peoples, Africans and Europeans interacted with each other.

  • Chinese women found their voice at the dawn of the modern era. Silent no longer, their roles in society changed fundamentally, taking on a complexity never seen before in Chinese history. This module brings these women into life, examining the impact they made not at the margins but as main actors, whose narratives are set against the background of Confucianism and the Chinese family and explored across the broad sweep of modern Chinese political and social history from the 19th to the late 20th century.

  • This module contrasts and compares the experience of state formation in four distinct countries of the Muslim world: Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan. Although separated by language, history and very different experiences of Imperial domination, each one of these countries struggled with the challenges of modernity, development and democracy for ‘traditional’ Muslim societies. Through these case studies, students are encouraged to consider larger questions. Are Muslims somehow constitutionally incapable of democratic self-government? Is ‘development’ a real possibility or only a dream?

  • The First World War was a transformative event in modern British history, which continues to provoke intense popular and academic interest. The destructive force of industrialised warfare led to a very direct civilian encounter with mass death and families and communities across the United Kingdom suffered unprecedented levels of bereavement. This module will explore the British experience of the war and look at the ways in which the conflict has been interpreted and remembered in Britain in the century since it began.

  • This module examines the origins, escalation and end of ‘hot wars’ and the Cold War in Southeast Asia between 1945 and c.1979. The Vietnam War was one of the most significant and devastating conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. Students explore how nationalism, decolonisation and revolution in Vietnam and Southeast Asia interacted with the global Cold War, focusing on both the policies of the great powers and the agencies of the Southeast Asian states and peoples themselves.

  • This module explores how the French sought both to describe and transform their society in the turbulent century following 1789, through the lens of innovative works of literature, political thought, art and the social sciences, all studied in translation. The upheaval of the French Revolution and dreams of radical transformation led in turn to socialist utopias, ‘realist’ novels and modern sociology, and to fears of national decline and fantasies of cleansing violence which haunted French society in the years preceding the Great War.

  • Art and architecture were key weapons in the construction of power in the Roman world and the establishment of the Empire. Using both archaeological and literary evidence, this module looks at how those in power employ art and architecture to express their authority and values.

  • From Constantinople to Alexandria: Eastern Mediterranean Cities, 1798-1956
  • Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, won three successive general elections and occupied 10 Downing Street (between 1979 and 1990) for longer than any other politician in twentieth-century Britain. She divided popular opinion, domestically and internationally, and her historical significance is yet to be determined. What exactly was Thatcherism, and why is Margaret Thatcher's legacy still so controversial and contested? How far did Thatcherism succeed in its objectives, especially considering Margaret Thatcher’s pledge to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society’?

  • From the Restoration of Charles II to the ‘Regency’ period under George IV, this module examines how men and women’s perceptions of themselves were moulded by their families and wider society, and the extent to which their experiences were determined by gendered perceptions of sexual, racial, and class differences. Students will have the opportunity to engage with a wide range of printed and digital primary sources and learn to present their work through a variety of mediums to academic and wider public audiences.

  • This module introduces students to the ways in which the ancients increased knowledge, both through geographical expansion and through technological advance. Students explore the reasons why ancient Greeks and Romans made contact with other peoples and how they described distant lands, both real and fictional. The technological inventions of antiquity are likewise examined, from military equipment such as burning mirrors and catapults to everyday gadgets such as vending machines and robots or the Antikythera mechanism, a complex analogue computer to calculate calendar dates.

  • The rise of a xenophobic, demagogic and nationalist political right is one of the most controversial phenomena in contemporary times. Is it fascist, populist or something else? How can we apply these concepts today? The Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election have also caused many to wonder whether the age of globalization and multiculturalism is now past. This module adds a scholarly dimension to such timely debates by tracing the rise of the “nationalist” far right from its early twentieth-century roots to the present day.

  • The last person to be executed for blasphemy in the UK was Scottish student Thomas Aikenhead, who perished at the hands of the public executioner in 1697 for maintaining the belief that Judaism, Christianity and Islam were human impostures, that all scripture was fable, and all priests devious manipulators. He was, in the language of the times, a freethinker. This course, by examining the History of Ideas, explores the conflict between reason and religion during the early English Enlightenment in the years following the English Civil War and on either side of the Glorious Revolution.

  • This course scrutinises an area of English social history that was once universally disparaged. Recent work, however, suggests that the Church in England from c1375-c1525 displayed remarkable resource in adapting to and satisfying the needs of contemporaries. As well as surveying some of the more vibrant areas of the Church’s institutional life, the course will dwell on the laity’s response, particularly as expressed through the parish. This will provide the opportunity to delve into areas such as popular belief and practice, parish government, and more informal activity in the foundation and management of lay confraternities.

  • The Second Crusade was the largest crusading expedition of the twelfth century, encompassing campaigns to Iberia, the Baltic and the Holy Land. It was also the first crusade to see the participation of kings and to have a fully organised preaching network, headed by the charismatic Bernard of Clairvaux. In spite of its unprecedented scale, this massive attempt to ‘extend the frontiers of Christendom’ as Pope Eugenius III described it, was in many respects a failure. This exciting and broad-ranging course illuminates an episode that affected all areas of Christian Europe as well as touching many regions of the world beyond.

  • The capture of the capital of the Byzantine empire by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1451-1481) on 29 May 1453 was a pivotal event of the later Middle Ages. This module explores the background, events and legacy of the fall of Constantinople, drawing extensively on the many contemporary accounts of the siege. Students will debate how eyewitnesses explained the disaster, balancing metaphysical reasons such as divine judgment and the wheel of fortune with practical concerns for human weakness and the role of heavy cannon.

  • Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was obsessed with crusading and he dedicated his pontificate to defeating the enemies of the Church. A profound challenge to his authority came from the Cathars of southern France - men and women following an austere lifestyle and holding a dualist belief in a Good God and an Evil God. Using a series of vivid contemporary narratives, in conjunction with other documents (including inquisitorial records), this course examines the beliefs and organisation of the Cathars and the progress of the Crusade and the Inquisition against them.

  • This course examines the changing place of the Empire in British politics and society in the mid-nineteenth century. Between 1830 and 1870 the political relationship between Britain and the colonies was recast, while understandings of 'race' also changed profoundly. Drawing on a wide range of textual and visual sources - including official papers, cartoons, explorers' diaries, newspapers, maps, parliamentary debates, novels and letters - students will examine British responses to imperial events such as the emancipation of slaves, indigenous rebellions in India and Jamaica; David Livingstone's exploration of Africa; and the settlement of New Zealand.

  • This module examines critical engagement with commercial and industrial society in Britain during the long nineteenth century. Waste, competition, selfishness, vice and urban poverty were seen as concomitant to the advance of commercial society, and as the 19th century’s first industrialised nation, Britain offered radical and socialist as well as conservative critiques of these developments. Arguments ranged from alternative visions of modernity to returning to a more idyllic past, and set the background for the modern environmental movement emerging in the later 20th century.

  • Berlin was one of the focal points in the history of the 20th century. The notions associated with the German capital appear far from unequivocal however. Across Europe and the world it served, and continues to serve, as a byword for both modernity and decadence; for civic pride and civil unrest, reactionary as well as progressive movements; for war and genocide; for tyranny, but also for freedom and, above all, for the unexpected turn of events. Based on a wide and diverse range of primary source material, the course extends, chronologically, from the making of metropolitan Berlin before 1914 to the ramifications of reunification after 1990.

  • This module provides students with a deep understanding of the genocide of the European Jews during World War II, the events commonly known as 'the Holocaust'. Students will explore the evolution of Nazi ideology, the creation of ghettos and death camps, and how the murder of the Jews was carried out across Europe. The evidence for collaboration and resistance will be examined, as will the liberation of the camps, the early collection of postwar testimonies, and the competing attempts to explain the Holocaust in history.

  • This module examines the ups and downs in American-Chinese relations during the Cold War, from hostile enemies in the 1950s and much of the 1960s to tacit allies by the 1970s. Students will approach the subject not only from the American perspective but also from Chinese viewpoints through both Western and (translated) Chinese primary sources, revealing how the two great powers were shaped by, and helped shape, the global Cold War and teaching valuable historical lessons for managing Sino-American relations in the twenty-first century.

  • Between the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the outbreak of World War Two, the Soviet Union experienced a programme of forced modernisation, unprecedented levels of state repression, and the devastation of WWII. The course will examine how Stalinist policies amounted to an attempt to sculpt a new society through a combination of forging 'Soviet' citizens, and excising undesirable elements from the body social. It will also explore how different constituencies within Soviet society supported, sought accommodation with, or resisted the values and policies of the state.

  • This module covers the crucial transitional period in which Christianity came to dominate the Mediterranean world, from the accession of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine to the death of Augustine of Hippo (author of the Confessions and City of God). The fundamental political, social and religious changes that took root during these dramatic years, which also witnessed the early Germanic invasions into the Roman empire, are brought to life through a spectrum of translated texts and material culture that students will analyse and debate.

  • From Henry VII to Charles II, this module explores how the English monarchy represented its authority and power in the midst of the great political and religious changes of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of textual and material sources, students explore how different rulers sought to sustain and enhance their authority through how they represented themselves, and consider how the success or failure of royal image influenced the dramatic events of the English Reformation, Civil War and Restoration.

     

  • Victorians were both fascinated and repelled by their capital city, often at the same time. For the American writer Henry James, London was not only "magnificent", but also a "brutal" city which had "gathered together so many of the darkest sides of life". This course strolls through the sights, smells, and senses of Victorian Babylon, the "dreadfully delightful city" with its extremes of imperial splendour and crushing poverty.

  • Ever since the Islamic Revolution in Iran happened to coincide with the greater prominence of Christian nationalist rhetoric in Ronald Reagan's White House journalists, policy makers and academics have suggested that the end of the 'short' twentieth century brought about a global return of religious radicalism. This course will discuss the utility of 'fundamentalism' as an analytical category as it seeks to explain a wide range of radical political cultures around the globe under one master category: from the new wave of Islamic terrorism to settler intransigence in and religious Zionism in Israel, from communal violence in India committed under the banner of a muscular Hinduism to the neo-Imperialist agenda of the Christian Right in the US.

  • This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the role that migration has played in British life since the nineteenth century, with particular focus on the evolution of identities and notions of citizenship. From immigration legislation, to race riots, from multiculturalism to Islamaphobia, this course engages with key aspects of modern British life and the various factors, historical as well as contemporary, that have shaped them. 

  • Terrorism has become one of the most pervasive and defining features of the modern world since 1945. It has been employed across a range of historic and geographic contexts by a range of actors, from lone individuals to anti-colonial revolutionary organisations, and from fundamentalist religious groups to liberal democratic states. This module examines the underlying reasons for the ascendancy of this form of political violence, and the immense challenges it has posed to state and society down to the present day.

  • In the 1850s photography was established in Britain – and altered how Britons saw themselves forever. This module looks at the relationship between images, society and culture, from the arrival of the camera to cinema and early TV. Through a wide range of visual sources, students look at the role of photography in everyday life – from staid Victorian family portraits to contemporary scandals over pornography – and how the new medium of film and TV represented twentieth-century Britain as class, race and gender were reconfigured on screen.

  • This module examines the history of Chinese migration in both an internal and external context, engaging with the issue of frontiers and the long-term impact of historic migration on China’s situation today. Students will explore how Chinese human mobility responded to and reflected political, economic and cultural changes from Qing imperial times to the Communist era, and how the lives of Chinese migrants in foreign countries reflected China’s interactions across broad geographical boundaries from Taiwan and Hong Kong to the United States and United Kingdom.

  • This module provides a detailed and intensive overview of the history of African American Islam. It focuses primarily on the development of African American Muslim communities in the twentieth century including the Nation of Islam and the Imam W.D. Mohammed community.  Students will explore the career and legacy of Elijah Muhammad’s national minister, Malcolm X, as well as recent studies highlighting the work of women in the original NOI, the resurrection of the movement, and the NOI’s work with Black Lives Matter and interfaith outreach.

  • This module examines the development of atomic weaponry and its effects on Western society during the 20th century. The A- and H-Bombs are arguably the most influential technological developments of the last century, affecting geopolitics, military strategy, and the shape of post-1945 society, as well as granting to a few the ability to render the Earth uninhabitable. This had a profound effect on politics and society, not only for the leading western states but globally with arms proliferation and the spread of atomic power.

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe was in a state of political and social flux. Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, the rise of mass politics and the decline of established religions saw existing hierarchies and authorities challenged by new liberating ideologies: secularism, occultism, nationalism, anarchism, socialism, feminism. Through a wide range of sources, students will explore contemporary debates over race, class and gender, the conflicting prescriptions for political, social and moral reconstruction showing how the very shape of the modern world was "up for grabs".

  • “At last I can live like a human being!” Throughout Roman literature, stories such as Emperor Nero’s celebration of his vast Golden House in Rome abound, and reveal how the domestic sphere was used to construct notions of belonging and status in the Roman world. Students will compare textual sources like the letters of Cicero and Pliny the Younger with archaeological remains from Rome, Pompeii and beyond, bringing to life the sounds, smells and sights of Roman domestic space in all their multisensory complexity.

  • The American Civil War was the defining moment in the history of the United States. The American populace, north and south, white and black, found themselves grappling with the nature of the American nation state and the status of African Americans within that nation. These contentious issues of politics and race were not truly resolved by this bloody conflict, and to understand America’s more recent history and politics students must get to grips with the Civil War in which the modern American nation was forged.

  • ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him’ (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882). This module offers students an opportunity to engage with leading modern thinkers – including Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud – as they confronted fundamental questions of human existence regarding God, religious belief, science and history. The module concludes at the beginning of the 20th century with the founders of modern sociology (Durkheim and Weber) and psychology (Freud) and their radical new ideas about the role of religions and their apparent decline.

  • Europe, as an “ideal” and imagined landscape, is a very old concept. What often impressed past observers was the deep richness and brightness of European cultures, their diversity and yet also their many common values. This module explores the journey towards the European Union, how this united Europe was built, and especially how it has been perceived by political movements, politicians, and scholars both in previous decades and in the present, offering students a better understanding of the world in which we live today.

  • The century from c.1050 to 1150 was one of dynamic change in Christian Europe. Old states were strengthened and new ones founded under increasingly centralized power; demographic growth resulted in expanding settlements; while relative peace encouraged new cultural forms. Monasteries were centres of religious and social activity, and new debates now arose over how both personal and communal religious life should be led. Students will explore the varied hopes of the competing reformers, and the lengths to which they went to realise their ideals.

  • This module seeks to understand the common roots of the recurrent phenomenon of genocide by making connections between a range of very different case studies, from colonial genocides in North America and Australia through to more recent cases in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. We debate the causes of these genocides and the role that ideology, war, competition for resources, and the nation-state system played in each, as well as engaging with issues of victimhood, loss, and living together again in the aftermath.

  • For too long, the history of the Holocaust has been dominated by perpetrator-led studies that trace its unfolding through the different stages of the Nazi ‘Final Solution’. This narrative completely neglects the victims’ perspectives, which are the focus of this module. Students examine case studies of emigration, insurgencies in ghettos, cultural resistance, the difficult postwar rebuilding of life, and the impact of digital technologies on mediations of survivor-hood, drawing upon a range of first person, collective and curated, testimonial, visual and oral documents.

  • Inverts, deviants, sodomites, sissies, tomboys, brown hatters, dykes, perverts: queers. Since the late nineteenth century these and many other such terms have been employed in Britain to identify and codify queer sexual practices and identities. With a particular emphasis on oral history, this module explores how queer identities were constructed and contested, described and debated in both mainstream culture and in the queer subcultures that emerged and took shape, laying the foundations for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identities as we understand them today.

  • In this module you will combine participation in a workplace environment for one day a week during term time (and three days a week for each term's reading week) with scholarly reflection on the nature of the organisational, professional, and policy contexts of the placement. Your placement will be in an organised setting such as Parliament, local government, the office of an MEP, NGO, campaigning or activist organisations, a political party, a media organisation, or the policy or communications division of a local company working in a relevant field.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of regulation in the European Union, including delivery of policy and administration. You will look at how the world's largest market operates, with a focus on EU public policy, including de-regulation, re-regulation, budgets and spending. You will examine the concept of the single market, the Euro and its crisis, justice, home affairs and counter-terrorism, the EU budget, agriculture, regional development, and social and environmental policies.

  • Power and Money in the European Union
  • Radical Political Theory
  • The British in India: a Social and Political History
  • Contemporary Middle East Politics
  • US Foreign Policy
  • Comparative Foreign Policy
  • Young People's Politics
  • Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
  • Visual Politics
  • Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
  • Global Energy Policy
  • Refugees and Migration in World Politics
  • American Political Development
  • The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • The Politics of International Development
  • Issues in Democratic Theory
  • Political Theories of Freedom
  • Defence and Security Governance
  • Military Change in the 21st Century
  • Leaders and Political Communication
  • Global Healthy Policy
  • Political Protest

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take twelve course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering versatility and choice.  

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars. Outside class, teaching you will work both independently and collaboratively with other students, researching topics in the in preparation for class discussion and producing your assessed coursework. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle.

The department has a number of special online learning resources, such as access to the full collection of the prestigious Oxford Handbooks of Political Science and the entire Communication and Mass Media Complete journals database. All our academic staff hold regular drop-in consultation sessions with students and, when you start with us, you will be assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

Most modules contain an element of assessed coursework, such as an essay, a report, group work, a research blog, or a presentation, which contributes to the final examination mark awarded. The results of the first year exams qualify you to progress to the second year but do not contribute to your final degree award. The second and final year results do contribute to the final degree result, with the final year work counting double that of the second year.

You will take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

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8th in the UK for the impact of our research

Source: THE, REF, Institutions ranked by subject, 2014 (History)

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