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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5854M Revolutions: Theory and Comparative Histories

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Elisabeth Leake

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Revolutions have been responsible for some of the greatest political, social, economic, and cultural changes in human history. But what is a revolution? What sort of change does it induce, and what are its causes? This module explores the history and meaning of revolutions by taking a theoretical and comparative approach. Students will first explore different sociological theories of revolution before studying a series of case studies in order to come up with their own conclusions about how to define and understand revolutions. The module is intended to provide students a framework through which to understand revolutions, as well as to encourage them to apply these frameworks to various historical case studies.


This module will study revolutions as historical events, taking an interdisciplinary approach. It aims to provide understanding of various sociological theories on revolution, applies sociological and political theory to historical case studies, leading to a deeper understanding of the concept of revolution, and encourages comparative and theoretical thinking about revolutions across historical time and space.

Learning outcomes
On completing this module, students will have:
1. developed the ability to read, understand, and apply sociological and political theory to historical events and actors
2. come up with their own theories of revolution based on explored case studies
3. learned to think comparatively about revolutions and other historical events taking place at different times across the world
4. gained a deeper understanding of moments of huge political, social, economic, and cultural change across the globe
5. demonstrated an ability to pursue independent research and study
6. developed skills in presenting historical findings both orally and in written coursework.

Skills outcomes
- comparative historical study
- experience with theory


Students on this module will study:
1. What is a revolution?
2. Theoretical frameworks for understanding revolutions
3. Sociological theories of revolution
4. Historical case studies: the first several case studies will be chosen and led by the tutor, but subsequent case studies will be chosen and directed by students (examples could include USA, France, Haiti, Russia, China, Iran, and Cuba)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

- Students will have weekly reading in preparation for class discussions
- Students will prepare presentations and exercises to lead a seminar, either in teams or individually
- Students will be expected to conduct independent research for an essay

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1 x 10 minute presentation on a theory of revolution: compulsory for all students to provide practice in oral speaking, measuring understanding of theories covered in class, and for which feedback will be provided to help students prepare for their own led seminars
1 x 4,000 word research essay that compares aspects of two or more revolutions (only one can have been covered in seminars)
1 x student-led seminar: to include a 25-30-minute presentation, a prepared hand-out for classmates, choice of seminar readings (in partnership with tutor), and other learning activities; and a post-seminar written report (1,000 words) reflecting on the student's experiences in the class and key analytical findings from readings and discussion

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 word research essay due 12 noon Monday of week 1160.00
Tutorial PerformanceStudent-led seminar including presentation, choice of readings, etc40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Alternative re-sit for missed tutorial performance will be an additional essay focusing on a theoretical aspect of revolution (2,000 words)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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