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Unit information: Europe's Age of Revolutions (Level I Special Field) in 2015/16

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Unit name Europe's Age of Revolutions (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST26026
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sheldon
Open unit status Not open



HIST23008 Special Field Project

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


'There is only one serious matter in Europe and that is revolution' wrote the German statesman Metternich in 1832. Many Europeans agreed and much of the history of the 'long nineteenth century' may be understood as a contest between the supporters and enemies of the principles of the French revolution of 1789. This unit examines the challenge of revolution and the reactions of established order through a study of the social and political contours of Europe's age of revolution. Students will engage with the main events of the period - 1789, 1830, 1848 and 1870-71 as well as its political inventions and major structural features. The focus of the unit will be the comparative study of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary movements in Britain, France, Italy and Germany. We will also examine sources for the history of this period ranging from works of political theory through to studies of art and iconography.


  • To place students in direct contact with the current research interests of the academic tutor
  • To familiarise students with the latest writing and revisionist debates on Europe's revolutionary era
  • To enable students to explore the issues surrounding the state of research in the field.
  • To develop students' ability to work with primary sources
  • To develop students' abilities to integrate primary source material into a wider historical analysis
  • To develop students' ability to learn independently within a small-group context.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • deepened their understanding of the latest writing and revisionist debates on Europes revolutionary era
  • become more experienced and competent in working with a widening range of primary sources
  • become more adept at contributing to and learning from a small-group environment
  • become able to understand the significance of revolutionary movements in Western Europe c.1770-1871.

Teaching details

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

Assessment Details

1 x 2 hour exam

Reading and References

  • William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution (1999)
  • Jonathan Sperber, The European Revolutions of 1848-51 (2005)
  • Robert Gildea, Children of the Revolution: The French 1799-1914 (2008)
  • Lucy Riall, Risorgimento (2009)
  • David A. Shafer, The Paris Commune (2005)
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)