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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GERM1200 20th Century German History

20 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Stephan Petzold

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Module replaces


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

20th-century German history is full of dramatic upheavals with often radical and even disastrous consequences. In the 21st century, Hitler, the Nazi dictatorship, the Second World War and the Holocaust remain focal points that stimulate and shape our interest in German culture. The complex origins, brutal reality and long-lasting legacy of the Third Reich are an important and fascinating subject matter. However, some of the underlying issues manifest in Nazi Germany, such as the desire for national unity or the quest for a specifically German political order, have a wider significance for modern German history. This module therefore adopts a comprehensive outlook on German history in the 20th century. While the module provides an overview of the major historical events and processes, it will bring particular attention to a number of tensions and contradictions which are crucial to understanding Germany during this period: (1) national unity and cohesion vs. national division and fragmentation: what kind of society did Germans want to live in?, (2) liberal-democratic vs. autocratic political structures: how did Germans imagine the political order of their nation-state?, (3) competing conceptions of German national identity: what did it mean to be German and how did German identities change? The module is taught through English, no knowledge of German is required.


The aims of this module are:
- to provide students with an overview of twentieth-century Germany history
- to introduce students to key issues and tensions underpinning developments in German politics, society and culture in the 20th century
- to encourage students to reflect on ideas such as the nation-state, political power, war and peace, social responsibility, identity and culture in a historical and intercultural context
- the enhance awareness of the continuing relevance of Germany's rich and difficult past for present-day Germany
- to develop a good general understanding of key principles in academic scholarship

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students should be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of the main political, social, economic and cultural events and processes that have shaped Germany's development in the 20th century.
- discuss key interpretations in debates over 20th-century German history
- identify and analyse arguments in scholarly literature and develop their own position in response
- analyse primary sources and use them critically as evidence to support own arguments

Skills outcomes
- Critical engagement with the political, social and cultural history of a different culture
- Awareness of how historical developments continue to shape the present
- Ability to critically analyse a variety of different primary and secondary materials
- Communicative skills, in speaking and writing


Semester 1 will focus on the period 1900-1945. It usually covers Germany around 1900, Germany in the First World War , the foundation and collapse of the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazis, Nazi society and the Holocaust.

Semester 2 will focus on the period 1945-2000. It usually covers the immediate post-war period the division of Germany and will then follow key political, social and cultural developments in both German states before analysing the collapse of East Germany and unification.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

• reading and reflection in preparation for lectures and seminars (c.3hrs per week)
• researching, preparing and writing the essay
• researching, preparing and writing the imagined autobiography
• complete formative assessments

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

• Feedback on contributions to seminar discussions
• Feedback on written text analysis
• Non-assessed essay in semester 1
• Discussion of and feedback on portfolio samples

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words50.00
PortfolioImagined ‘autobiography’ of a German life in the 20th century50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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