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Unit information: Communism in Europe in 2015/16

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Unit name Communism in Europe
Unit code MODL30001
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Allinson
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

At the end of the Second World War, Europe gradually became divided between West and East as Communist regimes emerged in Central and Eastern Europe, orchestrated by Stalin’s Soviet Union. In this co-taught unit, combining political, social and cultural history, we shall explore through comparative study how these regimes took and maintained power, the new society they aspired to create, the actual experience of life under them, the nature of opposition to them, the circumstances of their eventual collapse and how they are remembered now. The unit is recommended to anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of twentieth-century European political history, the Cold War, Communism in practice, the Soviet brand of so-called totalitarianism, imperialism and colonialism, the rise and fall of idealism and ideology and aspects of everyday life under dictatorship, from internal oppression to popular culture and the position of women. The unit aims to challenge key preconceptions, reflecting on both the differences between various countries’ experience of state Socialism and the unexpected similarities between East and West in the period. All primary material will be studied in English.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will have a good understanding of the history of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe from 1945-1991; they will have experienced and applied a variety of historiographical approaches to a variety of primary sources and learned the benefits and limitations of conceptual and comparative approaches to historical periods; they will have learned the benefits of working with students of other cultures, including learning how to tailor presentations to a mixed audience and how to engage with material beyond their narrow area focus.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught in a combination of lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information

3000-word essay (50%) plus 2-hour exam (50%)

Both forms of assessment will test subject knowledge of the field. Students will be required to developed detailed and extended analytical arguments based on independent research using a range of source materials. They will show an awareness of methodologies appropriate to the subject matter.

Reading and References

R.J.Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century – And After, Routledge, 1997. Archie Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism, Bodley Head, 2009. Geoffrey Swain, Nigel Swain, Eastern Europe since 1945, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. David Priestland, The Red Flag, Penguin, 2010. Tony Judt, Post-War: A History of Europe since 1945, Vintage, 2010.