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HI290 Essays

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General Guidelines for Essays

All essays should be typewritten and double-spaced. They must include a separate bibliography page at the end, as well as footnotes citing any sources referred to in the text. Be sure to cite all references: whether you are paraphrasing, using direct quotes, or borrowing ideas, you must note the source. There is no standard number of books/chapters/articles that should be read, but as a rule of thumb you should consult around 6 sources of at least chapter or article length for short essays and around 10 sources of at least chapter or article length for long essays. Please take the time to read your work through carefully before handing it in, paying close attention to presentation, typos, spelling mistakes and grammar.

For some advice on writing good history essays see the following:

If you are unsure what is expected of you, or would like advice on any aspect of essay writing, please just ask your seminar tutor!

Essays that are handed in after the deadline, or that exceed the word limit, will be subject to penalties. The department’s standard penalties for late submission and exceeding word length, as well as the policy on plagiarism can be found here.

General departmental information about essays can be found here.

All formative and summative work is marked in accordance with the University's 20-point marking scheme.

First Formative/Short (2,000 word) Essay, due Week 7, Term 1:

You should write an essay of no more than 2,000 words to be submitted in hardcopy in the lecture in week 7 of the autumn term. You may choose one of the questions from the list below, or, alternatively, develop a question of your own in consultation with your seminar tutor.

  1. How unified was Germany after 1871?
  2. Who ruled Imperial Germany?
  3. How accurate is it to describe Wilhelmine Germany as a 'society in restless movement' (Volker Berghahn)?
  4. 'From Windhuk to Auschwitz. The violence and racism born out of the German colonialism are a key evidence for the Sonderweg thesis.' Discuss.
  5. The guiding principle of German foreign policy between 1871 and 1914 was the search for security. Discuss.
  6. How does the Home Front contribute to our understanding of the German experience of the First World War?

Second Formative/Short Essay (2,000 word), due Week 1, Term 2:

You should write an essay of no more than 2,000 words to be submitted in hardcopy in the lecture in week 1 of the spring term. You may choose one of the questions from the list below, or, alternatively, develop a question of your own in consultation with your seminar tutor.

  1. To what extent was the Weimar Republic a ‘militant democracy’?
  2. How have historians understood the phenomenon of the ‘New Woman’ in the Weimar Republic?
  3. To what extent, and in what ways, did the Weimar Republic 'fail'?
  4. The Third Reich was 'the culmination of a long history of German mis-development.' (Jane Caplan) Discuss.
  5. Were the Nazis ever backed by the majority of the population and if so, why? Discuss with reference to the chronology of the Third Reich.
  6. How did the Cold War affect Germany’s development?

Assessed Long Essay (4,500 words), please check the departmental assessed essay submission dates and instructions

All students are required to write a long (4,500 word) essay, which will worth 50% of your total mark for the module.

There are no set questions for the long essay, and you should discuss prospective topics/questions with your seminar tutor as soon as possible in the spring term. It is important that you pick a topic that you find interesting and will enjoy researching. Long essay topics should be focused, in-depth explorations of particular events, personalities, debates or themes in modern German history and you will need to be prepared to read widely on the subject, think critically about the topic and evaluate the historiography on it.

Some examples of recent long essay topics for the module can be seen below. These are indicative examples, designed to get you thinking about your own topic. Please do not write your essay on one of these questions.

  • To what extent did the front experience of the First World War shape German notions of masculinity?
  • What can we learn about gender in Weimar Germany from the conflict between feminist campaigners and prostitutes?
  • To what extent were ordinary Germans ‘indifferent’ towards the Holocaust as Ian Kershaw has suggested?
  • Examine the social effects the Soviet rapes upon German women during the occupation of Berlin, 1944-1949.
  • To what extent can the Nuremburg Trials of 1945-9 be seen as examples of ‘victors justice’?
  • To what extent did a policy of denazification contribute to the democratisation of American occupied Germany in the years 1944 to 1950?
  • Was the reunification of Germany the merging of two equal states or the colonization of the East?

Students who wish to receive written feedback on their choice of long essay should submit a short (1,000 word) essay plan in hardcopy in Week 7 of the spring term. This should include a title, summary of the argument, give an indication of the main points, and include an indicative bibliography.