BA Modern History with Economics

Year of entry: 2024

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

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST31522
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course compares Nazi Germany to Fascist Italy. It concentrates on the origins, experiences and impacts 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. 


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.


Weekly topics may include:

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 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:

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

Intellectual skills

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

Practical skills

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

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  1. Essay writing and presenting a written argument under time pressure in a closed on-campus exam. 

  1.  The organisation of research into a coherent argument. 

  1. 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

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.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Essay plan (peer reviewed)





30 %

unseen exam


70 %

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback in seminars and office hours (one-to-one feedback)


Written feedback via Turnitin the essay and in writing for exam



Recommended reading

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

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.

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, Mussolini and Hitler: The Forging of the Fascist Alliance (New Haven, 2018).

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

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christian Goeschel Unit coordinator

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