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Unit information: Communist Worlds in 2015/16

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Unit name Communist Worlds
Unit code HIST30019
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Austin
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

From the Russian revolution in 1917 to the collapse of communist regimes after 1989, communism represented one of the most significant and defining ideologies of the twentieth century. Yet, what did it mean to be a communist? Is it fair to speak of a single, monolithic and totalitarian ‘Communism’ or were communist identities multiple and adaptable to different contexts and personal experiences? Is an analysis of communism as a criminal ideology akin to Nazism sufficient to understand why the communist ‘faith’ held such appeal for so many men and women across the twentieth century? These are just some of the possible questions students will be engaging with in the course of this unit, as communist politics, society and culture are explored in a variety of contexts in Eastern and Western Europe across the period of its existence.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed 1. a deep historical knowledge of the complexities of 20th-century Communism; 2. a deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis; 3. the ability to set individual issues within their longer-term historical context; 4. the ability to critically analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change; 5. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points; 6. the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion; 7. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint; 8. the acquisition of advanced writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour interactive lecture sessions Tutorial feedback on essay Access to tutorial advice with unit tutor in consultation hours.

Assessment Information

A 3000 word essay (50%) and 2-hour unseen written examination (50%).

Reading and References

Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism (2009). Geoff Eley, Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe (2002). Josie McLellan, Love in the Time of Communism (2011). Robert Service, Comrades!: Communism a World History (2007). Eric Weitz, Creating German Communism (1997). Tim Rees and Andrew Thorpe, International Communism and the Communist International (1998).