Module Catalogue 2022/23

HIS3344 : The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1961 - 1990

  • 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



‘If you do not like it here. Piss off, and go over there!’ This was the shorthand slogan often employed after 1949 against those who complained in West Germany. But more than of a latent conservatism the phrase is symptomatic for the fact that both Germanies had to live with the fact that they could not escape from each other, nor could they ignore the physical scar that was running through Berlin, the rest of the country, and in fact the whole continent after 1961. The Berlin Wall is, thus, emblematic for a whole era in German, European and International history: the cold war. This special subject will explore both the wider and specific history of the Berlin Wall and with it the histories of the two German States from the construction of the wall to the eventual downfall.

The module aims to:
1) Examine the political, social, and cultural history of the GDR and FRG after the physical division of the two German States in 1961, and to locate it in the context of modern German history.
2) Identify a range of primary sources and contemporary publications.
3) Examine and evaluate a range of historiographical perspectives.
4) 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.
5) Provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems including the appraisal of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide to the topics of the seminar discussions (actual topics may differ from those listed):
-Prelude: 1949-1961
-15 August 1961: Plugging the Hole
-Reactions: Public and Private
-Getting accustomed to the wall:
-Over the wall: Flight
-Living with the Wall: Everyday Life in the GDR - Between Retreat and Acceptance
-The Wall in Art and Culture
-Honecker’s GDR: On the road to collapse?
-9 November 1989
-3 October 1990
-From Unification to Colonisation?
-Preserving the Wall: How to keep Memory alive

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will acquire a knowledge and understanding of the history of Germany after 1945. The module is intended to enable students to develop an understanding of what it meant to live with the division of Germany for both German states. Moreover, the module will help students to explore the relationship between the political cultures and ideologies and the broader social and cultural history of the period. This will include social and economic change, the tensions in international relations, as well as the question of conformity and resistance. By the end of the module, students will have gained a detailed knowledge of selected sources (textual as well as non-textual) in translation, and of the key historiographical debates that arise from the subject.

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will thus encourage the development of associated skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results.

Students are expected to develop their capacity for independent study and critical judgement using both primary and secondary sources, so as to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities12:002:00Asynchronous preparation of the final assessment, and drop-in.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00PiP seminars.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study571:0057:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars are designed to encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, team work, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M15500 word commentary
Written exercise1M15500 word commentary
Written exercise1M15500 word commentary
Essay1M552000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 2000 word essay tests a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

Documentary commentary exercises and examinations test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticize a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. Submitted work tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research, reading and writing.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


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.