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Unit information: France and the World in 2015/16

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Unit name France and the World
Unit code HIST20038
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Cervantes
Open unit status Not open



Special Field Project

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


The twentieth-century was a period of dramatic upheaval in the history of France. The century witnessed two world wars fought upon French territory, defeat and occupation by German forces and the traumas of decolonisation. It also saw profound social and cultural developments which have significantly challenged ideas of what it meant to be French. This module provides a chronological study of the French twentieth century through a series of case studies examining key controversies in French history. It examines how France faced the challenges of war, modernisation and globalisation, and how the French themselves have negotiated and made sense of their past. Students will be introduced to the extensive English language scholarship on this period and will make use of a wide range of source material, including primary documentation, literary sources, artwork and film.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed 1. a wider historical knowledge of 20th-century French history; 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 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 key writing, research, and presentation skills.

Teaching details

Weekly 2-hour seminar Access to tutorial advice with unit tutor in consultation hours.

Assessment Details

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

Reading and References

Rod Kedward, La Vie en Bleu: France and the French since 1900 (2006) James McMillan, Twentieth Century France: Politics and Society, 1898-1991 (1992) Charles Sowerine, France since 1870 (2000) Alice Conklin, Sarah Fishman and Robert Zaretsky, France and its Empire since 1870 (2011).