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

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Felix Schulz
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 40 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


‘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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities12:002:00preparation of the final assessment.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading541:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00Seminars.
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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M20500 word commentary
Written exercise2M20500 word commentary
Essay2A602000 word essay
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MThis is the first source commentary (500 words) that will be formative. It will happen early in the semester
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.

Reading Lists