BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Comparative and Transnational History of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

Unit code HIST31521
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course compares and contrasts Nazi Germany to Fascist Italy, concentrating on the causes, both long-term and short-term, experiences and impact of both regimes. The course also explores transnational links between both regimes. Each session explores a key theme concerning the origins and development of fascism, the nature of the regimes; resistance and repression; society; class; gender; foreign policy; racial policy and Nazism and Fascism in memory and historiography.


HIST31521 is restricted to History programmes, History and American Studies programmes and European Studies programmes (please check your programme regulations for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; Euro Studies programmes; and History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas. Available to students on an Erasmus programme subject to VSO approval.


  1. This course will introduce students to a critical engagement with the comparative and transnational history of the world’s first and most significant fascist dictatorships and explore the usefulness of this approach.
  2. The course will provide students with a critical understanding of the key debates in the historiographies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany and introduce them to some key primary sources (which will be made available in English).
  3. Students will also learn how to think critically about the (political) motives, methods and processes of research in this area.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to;


Indicative Course Structure:

1. Introduction.

2. Origins of Fascism in Italy and Germany

3. The Rise to Power of Fascism and Nazism.

4. State and Party in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

5. Propaganda and Culture.

6. READING WEEK – no seminar, independent research for course essay

7. Coercion and Consent.

8. Society and Everyday Life

9. Foreign Policy.        

10. Racism and Imperialism.

11. Italy and Germany in the Second World War.

12. Nazism and Fascism in History and Memory and Exam Revision

Teaching and learning methods

1 x 3-hour seminar per week and 1 x course unit office hour per week.

All the support materials for the course will be on BB, and the primary source exercise and the essay will be submitted and returned via this medium.

Further weekly meeting times will be scheduled with the lecturer for drop-in sessions.

Knowledge and understanding

Manifest knowledge and understanding of:

  1. The history of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
  2. The history of the complex relationship of both regimes with each other.
  3. The advantages and challenges of comparative and transnational history.
  4. The history of fascism as a political ideology of the interwar period.
  5. Post-war memories of the Fascist-Nazi relationship.

Intellectual skills

  1. Students will develop a critical understanding of the historiography of Italy and Germany under fascism.
  2. They will develop skills to evaluate both visual and textual primary sources and discuss their relevance in their historical context.
  3. Students will learn how to engage with comparative and transnational history.

Practical skills

  1. The ability to articulate a response to various primary and secondary sources as well as to comments by other students.   
  2. Writing concisely and presenting an own argument

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  1. Essay writing
  2. The organisation of research into a coherent argument.
  3. Seminar participation and the ability to articulate a response to various primary and secondary sources as well as to comments by other students.  

Employability skills

Analytical skills
The course provides expert training in analysis and critical reasoning and the range of forms of written assessment develop important transferable skills in communication and presentation; argument and debate; teamwork; research and time management.
Group/team working
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Oral feedback in seminars and office hours: formative

Written feedback on the three written assessment pieces via Turnitin for primary source exercise and essay and in writing for exam: summative

Recommended reading

Alexander J. De Grand, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (2nd edn., London, 2004)

R. Bessel (ed.), Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (Cambridge, 1995)

Christian Goeschel, ‘A Parallel History? Rethinking the Relationship between Italy and Germany, c. 1860-1945’, Journal of Modern History 88 (2016), 610-32.

Christian Goeschel, ‘Staging Friendship: Mussolini and Hitler in Germany in 1937’, Historical Journal 60 (2017), 149-72.

M. Knox, To the Threshold of Power, 1922/33: Origins and Dynamics of the Fascist and National Socialist Dictatorships (Cambridge, 2007)

Paul Baxa, ‘Capturing the Fascist Moment: Hitler’s Visit to Italy in 1938 and the Radicalisation of Fascist Italy’, Journal of Contemporary History, 42 (2007), 227-42.

Patrick Bernhard, ‘Borrowing from Mussolini: Nazi Germany’s Colonial Aspirations in the Shadow of Italian Expansionism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 41 (2013), 617-43.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christian Goeschel Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

Primary Source Exercise, summative, 1500 words, 20%

Essay, summative, 2500 words, 30%

Unseen Exam, summative, 2 hours, 50%


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