Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

BA Politics and Modern History

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Crisis and Prosperity in Twentieth-Century Europe

Unit code HIST21112
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


Throughout the twentieth century, European states sought different solutions to the unprecedented reach and impact of economic forces, at times wishing to control and direct markets, at others unleashing their transformative (and destructive) potential. By exploring the intersection between economics and politics, this course will examine how new forms of rule (state socialism, fascism, the modern liberal state) shaped the economic, social, and political development of twentieth-century Europe down to the present day.

Taking a transnational perspective throughout, we study how the nation-state operated in and against movements that escaped its borders, from imperial expansion and decolonization to international movements of labour and capital. While this is not a course in economic history, it is a course that takes seriously how the economy has become a tool and norm of governance of exceptional and lasting influence.


HIST 21111 is restricted to History programmes, History joint honours programmes, and Euro Studies, and BAEcon programmes (please check your programme regulations for further details).

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


The aims of this course are:    

  • To introduce students to a broad range of relevant themes and historiographical debates associated with the economic and social history of twentieth century Europe;
  • To introduce students to critical concepts relating to economic history and economic systems;
  • To encourage students to adopt a critical perspective to their own understanding of European economic and social history;
  • Provide students with a range of background knowledge and tools that can be deployed at levels 3 and 4.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:


Indicative Course Structure:

  1. Introduction and Concepts: What is the Economy?
  2. Legacies of the First World War
  3. Crisis of European Democracies
  4. Soviet Experiments
  5. WWII and Reconstruction
  6. Reading Week
  7. Cold War and Empire
  8. The Golden Age
  9. European Integration and Decolonization
  10. The End of the Boom
  11. The Fall of Communism
  12. Legacies and Review

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is delivered via 2 hours of lecture, one hour of seminar instruction, and an additional office hour on a weekly basis.

All support materials (including slides for lectures when used) for the course will be on BB; additional texts are available in the Library High Demand section; all assessments and feedback via Turnitin on the course Blackboard site.

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an increased capacity to examine and evaluate the interactions between economic, social and political processes
  • demonstrate deeper and more accurate comprehension of key events, structures, and processes in the history of twentieth-century Europe

Intellectual skills

  • evaluate the ways in which historians choose and use their sources
  • hone skills of analysis and critical reasoning via the range of forms of written assessment
  • understand ways in which theoretical perspectives influence historical research
  • Analyse the relationship between economics, politics and society in twentieth-century Europe

Practical skills

  • extend and apply oral and group skills by participating in and leading seminar discussions
  • write reflective, considered, and well-structured pieces of assessed work applicable to analytic and persuasive communication in a range of professional venues

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • work independently, both within seminars and through individual research
  • experience and training in teamwork, argument and debate, as well as time management

Employability skills

Analytical skills
In addition to the transferable skills indicated above, this course gives students the opportunity to gain familiarity and skill in different modes of analysis and communication via the drafting of a policy briefing paper.
Written communication
In addition to the transferable skills indicated above, this course gives students the opportunity to gain familiarity and skill in different modes of analysis and communication via the drafting of a policy briefing paper.

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Written feedback and individual discussion (by appointment) for source analysis - summative

Written feedback and individual discussion (by appointment)  for briefing paper - summative

Written feedback for exam - summative


Recommended reading

Aldcroft, D. H. The European Economy, 1914 – 2000 (London: Routledge, 2001)

Berend, I. An Economic History of Twentieth Century Europe: Economic Regimes from Laissez-Faire to Globalisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Broadberry, S. & O’Rourke, K.D. (eds.) The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe: Volume 2, 1870 – Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Clavin, P. The Great Depression in Europe, 1929 – 1939 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000)

Eichengreen, B. The European Economy Since 1945: Co-ordinated Capitalism and Beyond (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007)

Feinstein, C., Temin, P. & Toniolo, G. The European Economy Between the Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Jarausch, K. H., Out of Ashes: a New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015)

Kershaw, I., To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 (London: Allen Lane, 2015)

Mazower, M. Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (London: Penguin, 1999)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexia Yates Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

Source Analysis, summative, 1500 words, 25%

Briefing Paper, summative, 1500 words, 25%

Exam, summative, 2 hours, 50%

Return to course details