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Unit information: Europe: A Fractal History 1945-1989 (Level H Lecture Response) in 2015/16

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Unit name Europe: A Fractal History 1945-1989 (Level H Lecture Response)
Unit code HIST39003
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hanna
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will explore the history of Eastern and Western Europe from the end of the Second World War until the collapse of communism from eight historiographical angles. Historians of economics, ethnicity, the environment, or democracy may draw divergent conclusions about what is important about Europe's post-war journey. Periodisation, for example, looks very different depending on one's perspective: for the historian of the Cold War, 1961 is likely to be a key date. An economic historian may well believe that 1973 was of longer-term significance. Equally, Eastern and Western Europe look much more similar under some lenses (increasing prosperity) than others (levels of democratic participation). Finally, what common ground do historians share? One answer may be a common preoccupation with detail: whether we zoom in on changes in what people ate, or zoom out to examine the changing geo-political situation, we need to be alive to complexity and difference.


Level H Lecture Response units offer students a further opportunity to work within a long term historical perspective, both chronological and thematic, across different time frames and a range of countries/cultures/societies. The combination of interactive lectures and written work enable students to respond in a critical way to the particular approach taken within the individual options and allow them to develop their own ideas. The level H unit differs from the level I LRU in that it will normally have a slightly narrower focus, be more interactive and more interpretative.

This particular unit aims:

  • To provide a broad grounding in the history of history of Eastern and Western Europe from the end of the Second World War until the collapse of communism
  • To provide a particular perspective from the tutor to which students can react critically and build their own individual views and interpretations.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have achieved:

  • a wider historical knowledge of the history of history of Eastern and Western Europe from the end of the Second World War until the collapse of communism
  • a deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis
  • the ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  • the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change
  • the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points
  • the ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion
  • the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

  • Tom Buchanan, Europes Troubled Peace (2005)
  • Mary Fulbrook (ed.), Europe Since 1945 (2001)
  • Tony Judt, Postwar (2005)
  • Mark Pittaway, Eastern Europe 1939-2000 (2004)
  • Goran Therborn, European Modernity and Beyond. The Trajectory of European Societies 1945-2000 (1995)
  • Rosemary Wakeman (ed.), Themes in Modern European History since 1945 (2003)