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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2140 Imperial Germany 1871-1918

20 creditsClass Size: 42

Module manager: Prof H Afflerbach

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

This module is not approved as an Elective


By the conclusion of this module, students should be able to:
- understand the basic political and social developments in Imperial Germany
- see Imperial Germany as a radically modernizing state and society
- understand also the very traditional power structures in Germany
- evaluate the cultural life of this epoch
- discuss Bismarck's and Wilhelm II's politics and Imperial Germany's place in Europe
- see continuities and discontinuities between Imperial Germany, World War I, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

Skills outcomes
Enhances Common Skills listed below:

High-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas.
Independence of mind and self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative.
Ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information.
Capacity to employ analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Ability to engage constructively with the ideas of their peers, tutors and published sources.
Empathy and active engagement with alternative cultural contexts.


The history of Imperial Germany ends where it started: in the "hall of mirrors" in Versailles. In January 1871 it was the place of Imperial coronation. In May 1919, defeated Germany, now a republic, had to sign the peace treaty of Versailles in the same place. Imperial Germany was a society with a double face: On one side it was an optimistic, quickly modernizing nation with an avant garde culture and phenomenal economic growth rates. On the other side, Germany was a state with a notoriously backward political system. This class will explore some of the facets of this state and society. It will deal with Bismarck and his ideas for a United Germany (or Greater Prussia). It will focus on his attempts to make the German nation-state compatible with the international order. It will deal with the German monarchy, especially with Wilhelm II, the last German emperor. It will deal with the contradicting trends in Germany society: Widespread militarism on one side, a growing welfare state on another side, and a rising political left, especially Social democracy, on the third side. We will study anti-Semitism in Imperial Germany. We will also study the writers of the epoch and the question of how the works of Theodor Fontane and Heinrich Mann influence our image of Imperial Germany. The class will end with the discussion of German responsibility for the outbreak of World War I and with the defeat and breakdown of the German monarchy in November 1918.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours183.00
Total Contact hours17.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Exam preparation; researching, preparing, and writing assignments; undertaking set reading; and self-directed reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, an assessed oral presentation worth 10% of module marks, one assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 word assessed essay to be delivered Friday Week 730.00
Oral PresentationOral contribution in class, can be resat with 'an equivalent written exercise'10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

10% oral presentations are redone with 'an equivalent written exercise'

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

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: 07/01/2009


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