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The Contemporary World - The Age of Total War

The Contemporary World - The Age of Total War short course is designed to introduce you to the contemporary world, exploring the social, political, economic, cultural and international changes which have occurred since the First World War. It spans a broad geographical range, combining the study of the British Isles, Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. The focus of the course is thematic, with lectures addressing the major components of contemporary world history such as world wars, communism, fascism and the Holocaust.

It begins with the First World War and its impact on the belligerent societies in Europe, America and the colonial world. It moves on to the international institutions (including the League of Nations) established at the end of the war and explores their functioning in the twentieth century. The rise of Communism in the Soviet Union and its influence around the world will be explored, and the challenge of Fascism and Nazism and the reaction of political democracies in Europe and America. You will also be introduced to economic history by looking at the impact of the Great Depression.

The course is taught via a series of lectures (from an undergraduate module) and a dedicated seminar. It may, therefore, be particularly appropriate for those considering a future transition to BA study. You will be encouraged to actively participate throughout the course. 

indicative content

  • Introduction: World War I and the Contemporary World 
  • World War I and the Foundation of the International System 
  • Communism 
  • Mass Culture 
  • Tensions of Empire 
  • The World in Depression
  • Fascism 
  • Democracy in Crisis 
  • World War II
  • Holocaust and Genocide 

This short course can be taken as a stand-alone course or it may be available as part of a Certificate of Higher Education.

15 credits at level 4

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.

First class: Tue 01-Oct-19 6pm-8pm

Class location Central London
Class code SSHC420H4AAA

This class has already started. You can no longer enrol on this class.