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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2309 Communist Eastern Europe, 1945-89

20 creditsClass Size: 42

Module manager: Dr Robert Hornsby

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module examines the history of communist regimes in Eastern Europe between the end of the Second World War and the revolutions of 1989. Countries discussed include East Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. Lectures will cover concrete events and processes, such as the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, while seminars centre upon thematic topics, such as 'how important was state violence in maintaining communism across Eastern Europe' and 'how and why were the 1990s transitions to democracy difficult across the former socialist bloc'.


Students will develop their abilities to analyse and discuss issues raised in the module, to conduct independent research on sensitive topics and to present their work in written and oral form. Through exposure to the distinctive nature of communist Eastern Europe, students will gain an enhanced understanding of the diversity of human cultures, and the different ways in which people respond to political authorities and ideologies.

Learning outcomes
Students will gain the knowledge and conceptual tools with which to understand the political and social history of communist regimes across Eastern Europe from the 1940s to the end of the 1980s. They will study the way in which communist systems operated and evolved over the period, as well as the way in which 'ordinary people' experienced everyday life under those systems.


Week 1. Eastern Europe, 1918-45: democracy, monarchy and fascism
What were the key social and political consequences of war in Eastern Europe?
Week 2. Communist regimes come to power
Were communist regimes in any sense 'legitimate'?
Week 3. The Hungarian Revolution, 1956
How successful were attempts to 'remould' individuals and societies?
Week 4. The Berlin Wall and East German socialism
How important was violence in regard to the stability of communist regimes?
Week 5. The Prague Spring, 1968
Were communist claims of equality anything more than propaganda?
Week 6. Stability at any price: 'the long 1970s'
Did rising consumerism prolong communist regimes or undermine them?
Week 7. Solidarity in Poland
No tutorial
Week 8. Balkan strongmen: Ceausescu's Romania and Zhivkov's Bulgaria
Was there anything cohesive about the 'communist bloc'?
Week 9. The revolutions of 1989
Did the revolutions of 1989 come 'from above' or 'from below'?
Week 10. Civil War in Yugoslavia
No tutorial
Week 11. Eastern Europe after communism
What were the key legacies that shaped, and continue to shape, Eastern Europe after 1989?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparatory reading for lectures and seminars
Preparing presentations
Exam revision

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Conducted through attendance at weekly tutorials and office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000-word essay, due by 12 noon on Monday of exam week 160.00
Essay3 x 500-word seminar essays (each one due 24 hours before the relevant seminar)40.00
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: 29/04/2022 15:25:06


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