Module Catalogue 2022/23

HIS2307 : Germany and Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Felix Schulz
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module builds on the highly popular module HIS2241. It draws upon the expertise of additional members of staff in such a way as to expand both the chronological and geographical scope. To include Central Europe will allow us to discuss modern German history in a wider geographical and geopolitical context. It will provide students with a better understanding of the complexities of the region and the different identities of its people(s), including those who did not fit national frameworks. At the same time, this module will include popular topics like National Socialism and the GDR and will thus serve as a useful preparation to our special subject modules in year three. It will also make a case for the importance on historiography, as we can make the students aware of the very different readings of the past, depending on the national and political positions.

The overall aim of this module is thus twofold: On the one hand, this module will provide students with key knowledge about the history of Central Europe from the time of the Napoleonic wars to the present day. On the other hand, it will also enable them to understand, analyse and challenge the different narratives that were used over the last two hundred years to write the histories of these regions/states. By doing so, it aims
1. To encourage students to examine modern German and Central European history from a variety of different perspectives,
2. To explore primary sources and to integrate them into one’s argument,
3. To encourage students to think about the contingency of history and in an interdisciplinary way,
4. To advise students to think comparatively and to draw parallels to the history of other European
empires and nations states,
5. To question some of our societal understandings of important concepts such as that of identity and
national belonging, and
6. To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and
critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for
independent study. Students will be encouraged to think critically and to develop their own research questions.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will be taught chronologically and thematically, beginning in the early nineteenth century with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the rise of nationalism in large parts of Central Europe. It will conclude with German and European unification processes in the 1990s.

The following are possible topics included in lectures and non-synchronous materials:
- The Nature and Rise of Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century
- Ethnicity and Belonging in modern Central Europe
- The German Empire in Europe and the World
- Gender and Citizenship in Central Europe
- Industrialisation and Work
- The religious Landscape
- Mass media and culture
- National Myths and the Political Uses of the Cultural Imagination
- Urbanisation and Modern Life in interwar Central Europe
- National Socialism
- Homeland and loss of homeland in the 20th the century
- At the Heart of The Cold War Divide: Competing Visions of Modernity
- Alternatives Lifestyles: From Life Reform movements to Punk
- Migration and Labour in the 19th and 20th century

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will learn about some of the most significant aspects of modern German and Central European history, dealing – among other things – with questions of religion, democracy, mass culture, migration and mobility,
identity, gender and class. Based on this knowledge, they will be able to critically assess the exiting
positions in the field and will be encouraged to develop your own research agenda. They will also
become familiar with some of the most important historiographical debates in modern European history,
which will enable you to transfer these skills to other seminars and modules in the future. On a more
general note, the module will help students to think critically of the ‘organic’ nature of nation states, its
boundaries and supposedly national characteristics. They will also become acquainted with the lives
of many extraordinary as well as ‘ordinary’ women and men and will be able to understand their very
diverse life choices, decisions, hopes and fears.

In short, they will gain:

• An in-depth knowledge of key ideas and developments in modern Central Europe in the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries
• The knowledge of how to use diverse primary sources such as songs, newspapers and feature film
for historical analysis
• A solid understanding of important historiographical debates concerning the history of nineteenth-century nation building, the two world wars, the German Reich and the Habsburg Empire, the Weimar Republic, National Socialism and the FDR/GDR
• A critical understanding of how and why the historical past shapes the political cultures of the Central European states until today.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Development of a capacity for critical judgement in thinking about the history of Modern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

2. Development of the ability to formulate and answer historical questions

3. Development of research skills in support of this capacity, such as: detailed and critical readings of primary sources; an engagement with political, administrative as well as popular sources of evidence (including film and literature)

4. Development of the ability to utilise and synthesise diverse methodologies and approaches used in
different academic disciplines

5. Understand why people in different nations remember the more recent past very differently, yet also share some basic assumptions about the time between 1800 and 2000

6. To achieve effective oral skills of presentation and argument during seminars; to contribute to group discussion and debate on a range of issues.

7. Ability to reflect on learning in the field and to measure your own learning gains

8. Conduct research on set problems, using library resources and online databases

9. Develop a written, evidence-based argument in the form of a 1,500-word essay and 2,500-word 24 hrs. take away exam.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Lectures (1 p/w)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:00For 2 assessment components (split as needed)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading331:0033:003 hrs reading p/w (module reading list)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars (1 p/w)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities331:0033:003 hrs prep tasks per seminar
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study351:0035:00General consolidation activities
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce topics and provide expert orientation and exposition on a broad range of themes and issues, supplemented by the module reading list. In-person lectures will provide opportunities for dialogue, while recaped lectures can be reviewed at any time across the week and revisited numerous times afterwards. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously and retain timetabled slots for live discussion of these materials.

Seminars will also consolidate the learning progress from lectures and weekly readings by enabling students to focus on connected issues and material in greater depth. Seminars will be student-led and facilitated by teaching staff and will hinge upon group discussion and debate about materials circulated in advance (for example, sets of evidence, scholarship, and questions). In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to hold live seminar discussions online and retain timetabled slots.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1351A7024 hrs Take-Home-Exam (2.15 hrs equivalent = max 2500 words)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M301500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining the student’s progress. Summative assessment tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in historical analysis, research, reading and the independent presentation of one's arguments.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.