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The Twentieth Century: Key Themes in Comparative European History (Level 5)


Module description

In this module, taught and assessed in English, we explore the history of the twentieth century, mostly from the perspective of Europe and its former imperial extensions. Rather than attempting a comprehensive survey of that history, we will focus on three key themes. With particular reference to the 'short' twentieth century (1914-1989), we will thus focus on war and its impact on society; on colonialism and on the decline and fall of the European colonial empires; and on nationalism in an era of nation-states and in the context of postcolonial European identities. A continent profoundly marked by its wars, organised around empires and thinking and acting in nationalistic terms can thus be presented as a whole, transcending regional specificities and different circumstances.

The module is divided into three sections, each covering one of the chosen themes, with an additional focus on a particular period or periods. The First World War provides the context for the treatment of war and society. In the section on European colonialism we focus on the attempt to maintain and rebuild the colonial empires after the Second World War, and on the failure of that attempt represented by decolonisation. In the section on nationalism, emphasis is placed both on European nationalism between the two World Wars and on postcolonial nationalism (including the emergence of nationalism in former European colonies) at the end of the twentieth century. By the end of the course, you should have a critical understanding of some key issues in recent European history and of the twentieth century in its wider global dimensions.