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Unit information: The Age of Revolutions 1776-1848 in Global Perspective in 2020/21

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Unit name The Age of Revolutions 1776-1848 in Global Perspective
Unit code HIST20128
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




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

Description including Unit Aims

There is only one serious matter in Europe and that is revolution’ wrote the Austrian statesman von 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, and seeks to situate Europe’s revolutions in the broader global context of revolutionary movements and events. This unit aims to:

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, successful students will be able to: 

  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding and detailed knowledge of modern European revolutions.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to integrate both primary and secondary source material into a wider historical analysis and argument.  
  3. Demonstrate the ability confidently to select relevant evidence in order to illustrate historical arguments.  
  4. Demonstrate the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint, as appropriate to level I. 

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 3500-word Essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]; 1 x Timed Assessment (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Please see Blackboard for information on Reading and References