ITAL20240 Italian history 1815-1945

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module explores how modern Italy was created and developed. It starts with Napoleon’s invasions in 1796 and the consequences for Italy of the subsequent Restoration in 1814-15. We will then explore the different phases leading to the Italian Risorgimento, the process of unification that brought together an archipelago of regional states in 1861 and created modern Italy. However flawed, the Risorgimento is often read as one of the great achievements of European History. We will then move to examine the many challenges faced by the new Liberal state after the Unification, such as the so-called Southern Question and and massive migration phenomena at the turn of the century. World War One broke out in 1914 as the country was deeply divided. In 1922, Mussolini marched on Rome and took power, turning the State into a totalitarian regime for the next twenty years. The final classes focus on the collapse of Fascism, the Nazi occupation and Italian Resistance until the end of the Second World War in 1945. The module is made up of weekly lectures and seminars devoted to an in-depth analysis of specific aspects of Italian history and aimed at building your reading skills in Italian.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Assuming you attend all or most lectures, complete assignments and engage in independent learning, at the end of this module you should be able to:
• give a succinct account of Italian history between 1796 and 1945 

• reflect on what you have learned 

• read, comprehend and assimilate a selection of short texts in Italian 

• present your knowledge in essays that display a basic understanding of critical and historical approaches. 

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Introduction and reasons for the delay in the unification in Italy.
Week 2: Phases of the Risorgimento.
Week 3: Problems left unsolved by the Risorgimento.
Week 4: The social question. Depretis and Crispi. Italian colonialism.
Week 5: Italy at the turn of the century. The Giolitti era.
Week 6: Mussolini the socialist. D’Annunzio. The First World War.
Week 7: The advent and consolidation of Fascism
Week 8: Reading week
Week 9: The totalitarian State and the Ethiopian war
Week 10: From the Racial Laws to the Second World War
Week 11: The Resistance and the end of war
Week 12: Writing about history

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures integrated by tutorials; formative assessment to be developed in each tutorial with class discussion, with an essay to focus student participation during the second half of the term, and a traditional exam paper at the end. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

A reading ability in Italian is necessary.

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
Multiple Choice Questionnaire: 1 end-of-course short quiz Week 12 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Class Test: class test Week 9 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: written essay of max 2,000 words (excluding bibliography) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Essay results will be discussed in class in the last part of the module, without identifying individuals but focusing on important issues like common misperceptions, difficult concepts, problems with written expression. In addition, individual feedback can always be obtained on request.


• Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy since 1796 (London, Penguin, 2008). 

Further reading: 

• Further preparatory readings and materials will be provided by the lecturer in advance of seminars.
Name Role
Assoc Professor Paolo Acquaviva Lecturer / Co-Lecturer