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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Lands Between: Eastern Europe from the Partitions of Poland to the Fall of Communism (HIST10402)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThe course examines main political and social developments in East Central Europe from absolutism to the collapse of state socialism in an international perspective.
Course description The modern history of East Central Europe can be seen as a struggle between colonization and decolonization. The empires of the Habsburgs, the Romanovs, and the Hohenzollerns ruled over the entire region until the end of the First World War, when new sovereign nation states emerged. Soviet and Nazi occupation during the Second World War destroyed these states and their multi-ethnic character. While most of the interwar states were re-established after 1945, the countries behind the 'Iron curtain' where subordinated to Moscow. The course examines main political and social developments from absolutism to the collapse of state socialism in an international and thematic perspective.

The seminar presents the social, political and cultural history of East Central Europe from the Partitions of Poland to the Fall of Communism. In thematically organized topics on the emergence of social groups to major processes of modernization on selected case studies, the course will compare the 19th and 20th century and ask for long line developments in an international perspective.

Semester I: The Long Nineteenth Century, c. 1795-1914

1. Course Introduction: Eastern Europe, Partitions of Poland and the congress of Vienna
2. Elites (Aristocracy & Clergy)
3. Peasants
4. Middle Classes & Intelligentsias
5. Urbanisation
6. Working Class & Working Class Movements
7. Nationalism & Imperialism
8. Economics & Consumerism
9. Minorities & Irredentism
10. Culture
11. Into Armageddon: The First World War

Semester II: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1989

12. Revolutions & Peace Treaties
13. Elites (Politicians & Nomenclatura)
14. Peasants
15. Middle Classes & Intelligentsias
16. Minorities & Irredentism
17. Urbanisation
18. Working Class & Working Class Movements
19. Nationalism & Imperialism
20. Economics & Consumerism
21. Culture
22. The Collapse of Communism
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking ( East Central Europe 1800-2000: Between Empires and Nation States (HIST10393) OR Modern Jewish History: Experiences and Agency in Central and Eastern Europe (HIST10394)) OR Politics and Culture in the Habsburg Monarchy 1848-1918 (HIST10405)
Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 50 3780).
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Show command of a substantial body of historical knowledge
  2. Show the ability to develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, formulating appropriate questions and utilizing evidence
  3. Show an understanding of the varieties of approaches to understanding, constructing, and interpreting the past; and where relevant, knowledge of concepts and theories derived from the humanities and the social sciences
  4. Show the ability to address historical problems in depth, involving the use of contemporary sources and advanced secondary literature
  5. Show clarity, fluency, and coherence in written and oral expression
Reading List
Ivan Berend, Decades of Crisis. Central and Eastern Europe Before World War II (1998)
Ivan Berend, History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the long nineteenth century (2003) - ebook
Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe. The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (1994)
Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe between the Two World Wars (1974)
Joseph Rothschild and Nancy M. Wingfield, Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe Since World War II (2000); available online at
Joshua Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse. The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire (2014)
Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain. The Crushing of Eastern Europe (2012)
Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2004)
Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe between Stalin and Hitler (2010)
Dominic Lieven, Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals (2002)
Sebastian Conrad, Globalisation and the Nation in Imperial Germany (2014)
Robin Okey, The Habsburg Monarchy, C. 1765-1918: From Enlightenment to Eclipse (2000)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - ability to draw valid conclusions about the past
- ability to identify, define and analyse historical problems
- ability to select and apply a variety of critical approaches to problems informed by uneven evidence
- ability to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding
- ability to extract key elements from complex information
- readiness and capacity to ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry
- ability to search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding
- recognition of the importance of reflecting on one's learning experiences and being aware of one's own particular learning style
- openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
- ability to identify processes and strategies for learning
- independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one's own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
- ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought.
- ability to test, modify and strengthen one's own views through collaboration and debate
- intellectual curiosity
- ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of historical issues and one's interpretation of them.
- ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
- ability to collaborate and to relate to others
- readiness to seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
- ability to articulate one's skills as identified through self-reflection
- a command of bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
- close reading of texts
- an ability to produce coherent and well presented text, sometimes of considerable length
- an ability to produce text to meet standard presentational specifications as laid out in a style sheet
- an ability to make effective presentations, perhaps using audio visual support
KeywordsLands Between
Course organiserDr Tim Buchen
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretaryMr Jonathan Donnelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3781
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