HIS33060 From the Ashes of Empire

Academic Year 2023/2024

After the First World War, Europe was transformed from a continent of empires to a continent of nation-states. This profound shift in political structure across the region produced a number of states lacking in popular support, some of which were attempting to grapple with democratic government for the first time. These fledgling, bureaucratic states, borne out of the peace treaties of 1919 and the smoking rubble of the first total war, found themselves assailed not by external enemies but by internal agitators. On this course we will look at government efforts to create a unified identity for the citizens of these new nation-states, some more successful than others. We will also look at the rise of nationalism and the myth of the homogenous nation. This leads into a discussion of internal resistance to government-mandated national identity, and efforts on both the political left and right to undermine these fragile, democratic governments.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1) Ability to process source materials and develop original arguments through a range of cases and historical examples. Students will also think in a thematic way, which can be built upon in their own research and allow them to demonstrate detailed knowledge of the events, actors, and processes through which nation-building has occurred in Europe.

2) Evaluate conflicting interpretations and nuanced narratives of the creation and values of nation-building and nationalism.

3) Critically engage with diverse primary and secondary sources, including unconventional sources and multidisciplinary methodologies.

4) Gain experience applying the skills of historians; research skills, synthesising readings and lecture content, meeting deadlines, and presenting historical findings through written work, presentations, and small group discussions.

Indicative Module Content:

- National identity theory, including a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding nation-state formation
- The impact of WWI and the peace treaties of 1919
- Political unrest and weak governments
- Paramilitarism and the potential for violence
- The myth of the homogenous nation and the rise of eugenics
- Case studies from across the continent

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines a one-hour lecture with a two-hour seminar. Weekly lectures provide overviews of the topic, with focus on background to readings and their relation to modern scholarship. Weekly seminars focus on small group activities and task-based learning through class debates, discussions, and presentations. Self-directed learning is advanced through student-led discussion and expanded reading lists. Advanced research, writing, and citation skills are developed through an end-of-semester essay.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Class participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: Primary source presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 3,500 words final essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

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