Modern European History

Academic year: 2021-22
Course: Foundation Course Humanities
Credits: 9
Period: first semester

Number of hours: 72

Teacher(s): Elisa Tizzoni (

Language of instruction: English

Learning outcomes

This course aims to introduce students to long-term trends and significant events in Modern European history from 1789 (French Revolution) to 1989 (Fall of the Berlin Wall) and to prepare them for further study in European history. By the end of the course, students will become familiar with historical methods and concepts and will acquire a general knowledge of the major events and developments of European History in the last two centuries.


The course will provide a brief overview on the most relevant phenomena affecting society, politics, economy, culture and environment in Europe from the late 18th century to the end of the 1980s.

Assessment criteria of knowledge

By the end of the course Students should be able to examine different dimensions and consequences of key facts and long-term phenomena in the history of Modern Europe.


Students will be encouraged to reflect on the variety of approaches used by modern historians (social history, political history, environmental history etc.). Students will be provided with primary and secondary sources (including written documents, art, graphs, maps, and statistical information) and academic texts.

Assessment criteria of skills

By the end of the course Students should be able to interpret sources and approaches available for research on Modern European history and to understand the multifaceted concept of “Europe”.


Conducting debate on historical events and connect them to topical issues at the present time; compare different views on the same subject.


No prerequisites are required for this course.


1. Introduction to Modern European History: approaches, methodological tools, different notions of “Europe”.

2. The French Revolution (part 1): cause, events, actors.

3. The French Revolution (part 2): historiographical interpretations.

4. The Napoleonic rule.

5. The Congress of Vienna and the challenges of the restoration.

6. The liberal revolutions (1820-1830) and the rise of nationalism.

7. The First Industrial Revolution (background, outcomes).

8. 1848: a turning point in European history?

9. The Second Industrial Revolution (distinguishing features).

10. Europe in the second half of the 19th century: France, Great Britain.

11. Europe in the second half of the 19th century: the unification of Germany and Italy.

12. Europe in the second half of the 19th century: Austro-Hungarian Empire, Spain, Sweden and Norway.

13. Towards the crisis of fin de siècle: the Long Depression, protectionism and imperialism, the struggle between authoritarianism and democracy.

14. Great War (causes, historical background, key events)

15. Great War (historiographical interpretations)

16. The Great War aftermath until the early 1920s.

17. The Fascist regime

18. The Nazi regime.

19. Europe on the eve of WWII and the causes of the war.

20. The Second World War (key events, outcomes, historiographical interpretations)

21. The WWII aftermath: Europe in the global context.

22. The first steps of European Integration.

23. Europe in the “Trente glorieuses”: society, economy, political culture and environment.

24. Europe from the oil crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall


Slides and articles provided by the Teacher

Assessment methods

Attendance and participation (20%)

Mid-term exam (short paper) (40%)

Final exam (short paper) (40%).