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Modules

Assessments

Assessments include source analysis, research projects, and presentations, alongside more traditional assessments such as essays and exams. Some of our assessment tasks also include writing for different audiences; for example, you might be asked to design a museum exhibition, or create blogs, podcasts and websites, or to write a book review. You might be asked to use an object—a piece of clothing, or a painting—to explore a historical topic, or to discuss the ways in which a historical event is represented in film or literature. In all cases, the assessments are designed to let you get to the heart of the historical matter you’re studying.


Modules

Whichever course you pick, you will be able to choose modules that span the globe and the period from the Renaissance to the present. All students will take modules covering the early modern period (up to 1800) through to the present. Alongside core modules you’ll pick optional modules, from within and outside the department, allowing you to explore new topics and develop your own ideas and analysis further.

First year

You’ll gain a foundation in the history of the modern world, establishing your own critical take on sources, evidence and arguments.

Core modules

We live in the here and now. But what got us here? This module studies the string of major social, political, and cultural developments that established our modern world. Radical (and not so radical) ideas from the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution’s structural transformations of how we work, build and buy things, and the struggles and stumbles of imperialism, capitalism and globalisation have gone far to set terms of life in the twenty-first century. The module will also help you develop your critical voice as a historian while asking comparative questions about historical difference across the world.

Seismic change. Gradual shift. Both? Or neither?

Between 1450 and 1800, Europe saw profound developments take place: whether it was the invention of the printing press, Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of America, or Martin Luther’s challenge to the papacy, the events of this ‘Early Modern’ period dramatically changed the social and political landscape of the times.

And yet, this was a period that could equally be viewed as slow-paced: for example, did the people of Europe experience significant changes to life expectancy or social hierarchies during the period?

Through this module, you’ll consider the differing historical viewpoints of both Europe and the Early Modern period itself. You’ll think about the individuals of the time too, considering the notions of European identity, and understanding encounters and relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans. And, through the comprehension of key historical and historiographical terms, you’ll begin to ascertain the roots of modernity.

Optional modules

"Empire is my favourite history module. It looks at different empires from around the world and how they approached gaining and maintaining control. I really enjoy studying this because I have learned about areas of the world which I hadn’t studied before. I also like that in my seminars we go beyond each individual empire to establish the nature of power and where it comes from; for example through military strength or colonial discourse."

Kiera Evans, student blogger. Read Kiera's blog to find out more about modules.

"The content of this module was really fascinating and something completely new for me, which made it exciting! I remember enjoying the seminars in particular because they were structured really well. Each week we would work in smaller groups to analyse a primary source, which I found really helped my confidence in seminars and meant I had a good understanding of primary sources in preparation for my essays."

Samantha Ellam, student blogger. Read Samantha's blog to find out more about modules.

This team-taught module offers a wide-ranging overview of themes and problems in Latin America’s social, political and cultural history. The module begins with the first meetings of Iberians, American peoples and Africans at the end of the fifteenth century, and ends by exploring the vibrant new social movements that helped shape democratic transitions, the left turn known as the "Pink Tide," and the recent resurgence of the right.

An introduction to the modern social and political history of sub-Saharan Africa. With a chronological approach, the module will cover three broad periods: the nineteenth-century precolonial period, colonial rule, and the postcolonial period.

Starting with a discussion of the idea of ‘Africa’, we aim to explore:

  • The changing nature of African trade and commerce after the ending of the slave trade
  • The character and development of political authority in the nineteenth century
  • The establishment of colonial rule through treaty and conquest
  • The effects of colonialism on colonised African societies
  • The growth of anti-colonial sentiments
  • The emergence of nationalisms
  • The impact of decolonization and the formation of postcolonial states.

The final lectures and seminars will explore the nature of postcolonial African states, and include discussion of episodes of violence and of ‘development’ in Africa.

Explore the Enlightenment, a movement of ideas c.1650-c.1800 that has been seen as laying the foundations of modernity. Embracing science, religion, politics, economics, exploration, collecting, literature, print, morality, international relations, race, sexuality and art, it affected much of Europe but also Europe's colonies, and it shaped the British, American and French revolutions. It helped to forge the idea of Europe and Europeans, in interaction with other polities and peoples. The Enlightenment 'project' sought to rid the world of what it saw as superstition and ignorance and to replace them with reason and progress, a project that remains as controversial today as it was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

You will be offered the opportunity to make a field trip, to the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum (itself a creation of the Enlightenment's desire to collect and order knowledge).


Second year

In your second year, you'll choose between working towards a 'Modern' or 'Renaissance and Modern History' degree, and your choice will be reflected in your modules.

Modern History

This provides opportunities to explore a very wide range of historical themes, geographies and ideas, and to test your developing research capabilities.

Renaissance and Modern History

An ideal choice if your historical interests focus particularly on events and people from the Middle Ages to the 17th the century in Europe.

Core modules

In order to understand your own strengths as a historian, it pays to understand to the methods of historians of the past.

In this Historiography module, you’ll start to ready yourself for the academic challenges of the final year of your degree. You’ll be asked to think more deeply about the questions posed by notable historians and to ask yourself what questions you should ask about the past. Do you pose different questions if you adopt a non-Western viewpoint? How should you go about answering those questions? And why should you study the past in the first place?

During Historiography I, you’ll learn about the theoretical approaches adopted by historians since the Enlightenment in the 18th century, and appreciate why these historians’ methods retained credibility into the 1990s. As the module progresses, you’ll develop your own critical approach to historical research, and learn techniques on how to articulate this in word and in speech.

For any developing historian, it’s just as important to reference contemporary historical methods as it is the methods of years gone by.

This is how Historiography II complements your learning from Historiography I. You’ll explore themes from 1990s to the present, each week focusing on a different theme, theory or methodology. These topics, which are currently hotly debated among academic historians, will be presented by one of Warwick’s experts within that particular area. You’ll be given an insight into your lecturer’s individual methodological and theoretical approach, while gaining awareness of what’s currently exciting and important in academic history writing.

Throughout this module, you’ll develop skills and experience to leave you suitably prepared to choose and deliver a dissertation in your final year of study.

Optional modules

At different moments in time, ‘being human’ has been constructed and interpreted differently according to dominant values, norms, and systems of knowledge.

This module considers the different ways in which humans have thought about themselves from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, both as individuals and as collectives. It forwards the idea that ‘human nature’ is not a universal, trans-historical concept constant over time, but rather is socioculturally constructed. Our students investigate those differences over time in Western culture and how they link to wider social, cultural and economic contexts. We learn about the crucial moments in the history of conceptualising and defining ‘human nature,’ from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment, to Freud and early modernity.

Ultimately we ask how a new age of humanity and new ways of knowing oneself came into being, and discuss what these new ways of understanding the self closed down or replaced.

Underlying the module is the question of whether we are still part of the Enlightenment project.

While there is currently great uncertainty surrounding issues of race and migration in the post-Brexit era, it is impossible to deny the long history of migration into Britain.

Beginning with the nineteenth-century migration of people fleeing poverty and the Great Famine in Ireland, this moldule takes a roughly chronological approach by charting major events and debates, such as the 1919 racist riots, various legislative measures designed both to limit immigration and improve domestic ‘race relations’, anti-racism and the British Black Power movement, and ideas of ‘Britishness’ in multicultural Britain.

Throughout, this module examines a wide range of key themes, particularly focusing on the experiences of migrants, how immigration has influenced Britain and what it means to be British, and why migrants from some countries appear to be more welcome than others.

Our very own Modern Records Centre's collections contain a range of sources on race, ethnicity and migration in Britain from the late 19th century onwards, including documents relating to themes covered in this module.

Would you like to understand what is going on in Ukraine today and what is behind the Russian-Ukrainian conflict? Do you want to understand why so many people in the past and present were and are willing to die for their nation? Would you like to know how the Ukrainian, Polish and Russian nations were made? Then this module is for you.

An introduction to the history of global interactions between different parts of the world through a focus on early connections in the period 1200-1500. By following the circulation of people, knowledge, religion, and goods in the late medieval world, this module compares regions from the Mediterranean and Islamic world to India and China.

Studies will be set within the theoretical framework of global history. Topics include diasporas, material culture, African states and empires, the silk roads, global cities, and medieval travellers.

This module will introduce you to a range of long-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century primary texts in which there is sustained reflection and commentary on the individual, the polity, and an emerging conception of society. In doing so, this module raises broader philosophical questions about the construction of identity, character and virtue, political realism and idealism, and relativism and individualism. The module also involves students in reflecting on the changes in styles of painting, architecture and fashion and linking this to the core themes.

Being one of the oldest civilizations, China has a long, rich, and diverse history. In chronological frameworks, this module explores its most recent past: the history of modern China, which in actuality is still in the grip of its dynastic past, despite countless reforms, revolutions and modernization that started in mid-nineteenth century and were modelled on the West.

The module will examine eight major historical events that build a chronological framework for understanding the history of modern China:

  • The Qing’s Conquering of the Ming, 1644
  • The First Opium War, 1839
  • The Taiping Rebellion, 1850
  • Reform Movements, 1861
  • The 1911 Revolution, 1911
  • The Second Sino-Japanese War, 1937
  • The Communist Revolution, 1949
  • The Cultural Revolution, 1966

In this module you will explore the attempts of early modern monarchs and governments to gain hegemony over the British Isles and establish an imperial dominion beyond the Atlantic. You will focus on the connections between the kingdoms between the reigns of Elizabeth I and Charles I, and show how relations across the British Isles were affected by conflicts over the powers of crown and church, and challenged by splits between rival religious communities. These tensions, as the module will highlight, were grafted onto ancient national, cultural and ethnic fault lines.

We will look at how the experience of civil war, unrest and revolution took place within a larger international setting, studying the impact of civil and religious divisions on the development of the overseas empire, and highlighting the competing European affinities that impinged upon subjects of the three kingdoms. The module will focus on the experiences of the different religious, national and ethnic groupings within the British Isles and British America, and will encompass the history of culture and ideas, as well as religion and politics.

Eating is a deeply human activity. Language, and the human species itself, perhaps developed out of our desire to cook and share food. Yet the way we eat now may be destroying important aspects of human society and the environment itself. How did we get into this mess?

This module explores the long history of the production, marketing and consumption of food, from ancient times to the present, from vegetarianism to the first battery chicken. It provides a framework for thinking about the place of food and eating within historical analysis. Food will be considered from multiple overlapping perspectives - ethics, labour, environment, community, power, health, hunger and science - to help contextualise our current attitudes to food, and to introduce important historical concepts (from 'moral economies' to 'biopolitics') relevant to all areas of historical analysis.

Discover the history of the United States (1876-1929) through the rise of the culture industries, including the production, censorship, and consumption of literature, theater, music, radio, sports, fashion, cinema, and advertising - and the ways in which individuals have sought to resist or reformulate dominant national discourses through cultural production.

Topics include the incorporation of culture as an integrated big business in the late nineteenth century, the early history of baseball, the creation of the Western, the emergence of working-class culture in dime novels and vaudeville, blackface and the erasure of African American history, Hollywood's attitudes toward working women in the 1920s, and the rise of the ethnic gangster as a media hero.

You will learn not only about the history and theory of culture, national identity, and "modernism" in America, but also about the ways in which cultural history is developed, contested, and reconstructed via race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality.

Explores the history of the United States (1929-2019) through the rise of the culture industries; the production, censorship, and consumption of literature, theatre, music, film, television, sport, fashion, and advertising; and the ways in which individuals have sought to resist or reformulate dominate national discourses through cultural production.

Topics include women in Hollywood; sportswear and androgyny in 1930s fashion, the Federal Theater Project, Mexican American youth culture and the Zoot Suit Riots; the Hollywood blacklist, masculinity and corporate culture in the postwar era, African Americans on network television, celebrity, and the history of the Hollywood blockbuster and fan cultures.

You will not only about the history and theory of culture, national identity, and "post-modernism" in America, but also about the ways in which cultural history is developed, contested, and reconstructed via gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.


Final year

If you choose Renaissance and Modern, you’ll spend your first term in Venice. You’ll benefit from an immersive language course and the opportunity to live in this UNESCO world heritage site. You’ll take the core module ‘Venice and the Renaissance’ where you study the history of a great Mediterranean city while living in it.

For either degree path, you’ll be working on a dissertation, and on advanced options for which you could be assessed in a variety of ways, and which cover a great variety of topics. This means you can select your advanced options based on the assessment methods which suit you best.

Core modules

What have you learned? What are you most interested in? And what do you want to tell us about history?

Over the previous years of study, you’ll have gained skills and understanding that will enable you to research, analyse, critique and discuss key historical themes – all the attributes you need to become a critical and imaginative thinker.

Your final-year dissertation is your opportunity to demonstrate this. It’s your platform to choose and explore an area that truly fascinates you, based on a module in your second or final year, or your year abroad. It’s your chance to prove yourself as a capable historian.

By working on your dissertation, you’ll undertake a substantive piece of historical research and produce an article-length piece of work. You’ll call upon the theoretical approaches you explored in the Historiography modules, and critically assess a wide variety of primary sources. You’ll have the scope to outline, write and sustain a coherent and logical argument.

Help is on hand throughout. You’ll be allocated a supervisor in term one of the final year, and there is also a Dissertations Coordinator available for general guidance and queries. If you’re spending a term in Venice, your tutors there will be able to support you too.

One of the first international financial centres. A city of enormous architectural and artistic significance. A metropolis of myth and empire. There is a lot that people already know about Venice; for a budding historian though, there is much more to unearth on this remarkable city.

This module will give you ample opportunity to learn about Venice through a range of primary textual, visual and material sources. And, by spending a term studying in the city, you’ll be able to put your learning into practice through a series of site visits.

Through this immersive study of Venice, you’ll find yourself getting closer to the city’s history between the late 14th century and the late 16th century. Venice will also act as a base from which you can explore wider issues, including gender, violence and church reform.

Optional modules

Thsi module, which looks at the production, trade, and prohibition of narcotics throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, seeks to contextualize the current situation, teasing out the social, economic, and political effects of the drug trade and its US-led opposition.

This module aims to examine the phenomenon of Stalinism between 1928 (the beginning of the “Revolution from above”) and 1953 (Stalin’s death). After a discussion of the transformation of the economy, society and culture the focus is on the social and cultural history of Stalinism as a ‘civilisation’.

The Soviet leadership attempted to implement a socialist way of life and to construct a socialist identity. The consequences of this attempt for everyday life are considered as central mythologies of Stalinist propaganda and the ‘culture of violence’. We will also discuss how far Stalinism was a purely Russian/Soviet phenomenon. We will therefore look at the consequences of Stalinism for the international communist movement and for the sovietisation of Eastern Europe after 1945.

Popular music’s importance has long been the subject of debate with criticism from commentators and intellectuals, including the Frankfurt School’s Kulturindustrie’ critique which saw it as commodified entertainment, whereas others, notably Eric Hobsbawm, saw popular music as more complex and at times both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic.

These debates have continued and become part of a lively historiography which this module draws upon as it explores the main developments in popular music. It explores popular music’s role within mass culture, the impact of technology, the relationship between popular and art music, the debate over ‘authenticity’, the link to other arts movements, the impact of race, gender and class, and music’s role in reflecting and changing politics and identity.

An opportunity to explore the impact and significance of religious developments in England in the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), with the aim of showing how they transformed society, culture and politics at both national and local levels.

You will focus on the crusades to the Eastern Mediterranean, investigating the development of the crusading movement and the establishment of crusader states. The crusading movement had an enduring appeal throughout the medieval period and beyond: the reasons behind this fascination will be analysed, focusing on the motivations of people from various social groups who took part in the expeditions.

As current issues of rights to security, migrant rights and indigenous rights and rights to self-determination and autonomy take centre stage in Latin American political and social life, this course analyses the development of rights in the region in historical perspective.

It looks at the relationship between rights, democracy, liberalism, Catholicism and social revolt and analyses the range of civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights and their interplay with notions of citizenship, race, class and gender. Students will analyse the current literature on rights, the historiography of resistance and revolution as well a broad range of primary sources.

An introduction to the history of the body in Soviet Russia from revolution to the collapse of the USSR, in light of revolutionary claims that socialism would bring about ‘a higher social-biologic type, or if you please, a superman’. We will consider the utopian visions of the ideal socialist body, as they were disseminated in propaganda, literature and art. The means by which the Soviet state sought to bring these visions to life will be explored – through healthcare, education and physical culture – and how Soviet citizens responded to the new social, emotional and sensory regimes of the body.

Your studies will also consider how ideological understandings of the ideal socialist body intersected with the messy realities of the physical in Soviet Russia, and consider the ways in which questions of sexuality, degeneration, disability and disease were reconciled with the dreams of a revolutionary utopia.


Please note: The content on this page is a selection of some of the modules that ran recently. Our modules are continually reviewed and updated to reflect the latest research expertise within the department, and given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. Read our terms and conditions to find out more.