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Modern and Contemporary History

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Modern and Contemporary History

BA
  • UCAS code V140
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

Studying Modern and Contemporary History is exciting and rewarding. It will help to satisfy your curiosity about our recent past and allow you to acquire an in-depth understanding of the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As well as an in-depth knowledge, Modern and Contemporary History students also develop essential skills of analysis, argument and communication - all highly valued in today’s competitive employment market.

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 at one of the largest and most influential departments in the country, you will have access to a range of course options.  This degree allows you to study a range of issues in modern and contemporary history and through our courses you will learn how to analyse these issues in different ways - from the biographical, looking at Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela; the national, by studying, for instance, modern British or American history; and the thematic, with options such as the history of global terrorism, and modern political thought. You will also study leadership and government and the broader social and cultural contexts, to form a holistic view of modern history.

You will receive individual attention and learn in small teaching groups, whilst having access to some of the richest facilities for historical research anywhere in the world; in addition to the College’s substantial library collections, there are the National Archives, British Library and other libraries of the University of London.

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.
  • Contribute to the field through your own research projects.
  • Become involved in our leading research centres.
  • Knowledge of modern history and policy is valued by the civil service, government, think-tanks and lobbyists.
  • Opportunities to study abroad as part of your degree.

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.

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
  • This final year module explores the various developments that have emerged within the discipline of History, in particular over the last 50 years, and which today collectively invigorate its study.  It investigates how far and in what ways the practice and making of 'History' has moved from seeking 'explanation' to providing 'meaning', and from identifying 'causes' to deepening 'understanding'. In this way it will seek to provide students with a clear grasp of how History as a discipline is practised in the early twenty-first century, through a wide range of lectures and seminars that reflect the diversity and innovation at the heart of the study of History today.

  • 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.

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 - Gateway
  • 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 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.

Year 2
  • 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.

  • Globalising Capital: Britain and the World, 1846 to 1913
  • 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 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 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 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.

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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?

  • 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
  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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’?

  • 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.

Year 3
  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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’?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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".

  • 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.

  • 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.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, large and small seminar groups and occasionally in one-to-one tutorials. Outside classes you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study. 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, which provides a wide range of supporting materials. A Personal Tutor will guide and support throughout your degree and you will be supervised by a member of staff when preparing your second-year independent research essay and your final-year dissertation.

Some course units are assessed solely by coursework, others by a combination of examinations, coursework, online quizzes and presentations. In your second year, you will write a 5,000-word independent research essay, and in your final year you will research and write a 10,000-word dissertation based on primary sources.

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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Source: THE, REF, Institutions ranked by subject, 2014

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