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(Alternate title: EU1101E – The French Revolution, Napoleon and Bismarck)
For Arts students, there is a need to clear the Faculty Exposure Requirements (FERs, for short) as part of their university education. This module, along with the Global Studies module (GL1101E), can be used for either the Humanities or Social Sciences division, which makes it attractive for those that aren’t interested in theater studies, literature or linguistics.
For me, I didn’t know much about Europe’s history prior to WW2 and the Cold War, and I had a very, very poor understanding of the causes of WW1 as it wasn’t covered in much detail in previous modules I had taken. So this module seemed like a good way to supplement said lack of knowledge and I got to take this module with a few friends to boot 🙂
What I expected
The Makings of Modern Europe. Of course one immediately jumps to the definition of modernity utilized and how much it was affected by whatever is being studied, so I expected more history than contemporary affairs.
What I got
Pretty much a crash course in 18th to 20th century European history, which was quite interesting at times to learn about. Both lecturers (Prof Brian Farrell and Dr. Rudling) are very engaging in their manner, with Prof Brian being a bit more excited (I feel haha) and Dr. Rudling creating a more contemplative atmosphere when he teaches. One learns to learn of history through themes rather than being tied to dates and events – in doing so, a macro view can be taken. Themes such as war and revolution, questions and concepts of legitimacy as well as governance and a bit of racial/women’s rights are all covered, while famous historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Otto Von Bismarck are taught in great detail.
My tutor for this module (whose name escapes me now) was a jolly guy that is also enthusiastic in his teaching, and always tries his best to get a half-dead class hyped up in studying history. He’s quite knowledgeable in this field as well, so those that want to shoot strange ideas are more than welcome to seek his opinion on these theories ^^
[Course Materials?] Joseph Cole et al., Western Civilizations: Their History and Their Culture. A thick, expensive text book that I’m more than willing to sell after this module at a discounted price >
Assessment & Workload
One is assessed as follows:
- Midterm Take-home exam: 20%. Quite manageable, don’t need to cite external sources.
- Research essay: 20%. Where one gets to shine: Quite a few interesting questions to pick from, although the weight is somewhat unfortunately the same as the midterms.
- Class & online forum participation: 20%. Make some quality posts online and participate actively in tutorials and one should be fine.
- Finals: 40%. Two essays, 6C2 (iirc), two hours. Not that difficult time-wise, but one should really have a good grasp of what they were taught and read up a bit more on Wikipedia in order to strengthen their knowledge of events that have already happened. This will definitely help in the finals.
Workload is about light to moderately light – outside of completing the required readings and occasional tutorial preparation, one doesn’t have that much to do. The readings themselves may take up to a couple of hours for a couple of chapters, but they’re sometimes spread over two or three lectures so it isn’t that much over time.
I had done poorly for my midterms (Tutor: “I have good news for everyone: Y’all did quite okay. The lowest in this class was a B!” Mfw I get my paper and see a B ><) and so I didn’t have high hopes of snagging an A-. My hopes briefly rose when I got an A for my research essay, but being uncertain of my class & online forum participation, I expected a flat B+.
I got the B+ that I had been expecting, which was not too bad, but could’ve been better. Probably could’ve gotten an A- if I hadn’t screwed up the midterms x.x
Conclusion & Tips
I’d say this is a good module for those that lack knowledge of basic European history (the French Revolution? What’s that? Can eat anot? – ironically one of the minor causes was a famine, so no, cannot eat) or those that are a bit wary of GL1101E and want something a bit more grounded. One does get to see a bit more of the ‘Makings of Modern Europe’ insofar as the build up to WW1, but the prosecution and termination of WW1 is not taught. Given that it spans a few centuries though, be prepared for more breadth over depth as usual. Still, it’s pretty good as a primer for writing history-style papers (and reminded me why I didn’t major in history – that style…!).
- Do your readings, otherwise you’ll be hard-pressed to know what the lecture is about. The lectures do not cover exactly the same material that the readings cover: More often than not they approached something similar or tangentially related from a different perspective or go into something deeper than the readings do. So both complement, don’t skip out on one or the other.
- Online forum postings can come from a bit of in-depth research on Google, so make use of it, read a couple of journal articles/history chapters and engage actively with the questions posed. Then you’ll get a few quality posts (I’d recommend more than 3 for a good grade) and that should be enough.
- I’d say spending up to three hours max on this module per week should be sufficient – don’t spam time on it to get a good grade (A- and above) since those that have done history in A’s or are just history buffs will have a bit of an advantage in this module. That said, 3 hours max should be sufficient for a B to a B+.