< HIST209 : Anti-Fascists: The European Left in the Age of Extremes, 1918-1939

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HIST209 : Anti-Fascists: The European Left in the Age of Extremes, 1918-1939

Level:Part II (any yr)
Learning Hours:150
Credit Points:15.0
Course Convenor:Professor MM Camino Maroto

Syllabus Rules

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Prior to HIST209, the student must have successfully completed:

Assessment Rules

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  • 60% Exam
  • 40% Coursework

Curriculum Design: Outline Syllabus

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This module will explore the development of social and political movements in Europe in the inter-war years, paying special attention to the way they adapted and responded to the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. Starting from the end of the First World War and the Russian Revolution, the module will scrutinise international movements and events that had a transnational dimension. These include the invasion of Abyssinia in 1935, the Sudetenland crisis, the Munich Agreement of 1938, the Anschluss and the Spanish Civil War in 1936-39. In relation to the latter, the module will study the alliances which resulted in the Non-Intervention Pact and the formation of the International Brigades in 1937. The module concludes with the USRR-German alliance and the invasion of Belgium and Poland in 1939. The main focus of the module will be on the socialist, social-democrat and communist parties, studied alongside other regional, ethnic or grass roots movements which often aligned themselves at different ends of the political spectrum. This will foreground the contrast between the ‘internationalist’ and ‘local’ opposition to fascism and totalitarianism. The module finishes with a look at the intense debates that took place during the era about (ultra)nationalism and the way they era has been interpreted thereafter, taking into account especially the effects of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Topics to be studied will typically include:

Social and Revolutionary Movements at the turn of the century

WWI and the Soviet Revolution

The Great Depression

Fall of Weimar Republic, Rise Mussolini and Hitler

Fascism versus ‘anti-fascism’: Communist Parties in Europe (esp. France, Italy and UK)


Abyssinian Invasion and Popular Fronts of Spain and France

Spanish Civil War and International Brigades

Sudetenland crisis, Anchluss, Soviet-German Pact, and Occupation of Poland


Educational Aims: Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

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This module aims to:

  • introduce students to events underlying the opposition to the rise of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini
  • introduce students to events to the European left during the Great Depression
  • understand developments leading to World War II
  • explore interdisciplinary material as historical sources, including memoirs, testimonies, court cases, films and photography.
  • explore how historians use primary sources, and the relationship between primary and secondary sources
  • introduce the nature and practice of comparative history

Educational Aims: General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

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This module aims to:

  • experience a wide variety of primary and secondary sources
  • develop research skills
  • develop analytical skills of evaluating evidence
  • explore clear, precise and comprehensive presentation of evidence and argument
  • understand the processes and techniques of research
  • analyse and prioritise research materials
  • use the resources, of the university library, its print holdings, cataloguing systems, electronic and digital searches and resource-holdings.

Learning Outcomes: Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

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On successful completion of this module students will be able to...

  • express, in the form of an examination, a broad  knowledge of themes and events during 1930s and 1940s Europe
  • demonstrate detailed knowledge of the ways in which the European Left addressed the rise of Hitler and Stalin
  • understand the layers underpinning the rise of fascism  from the perspective of those opposing it
  • understand the importance (or lack of importance) of unions, political parties and grass-roots movements in the inter-war years
  • recognise the contradictions of the internationalisation of left-wing politics, and the rising influence of Stalinism during the 1930s

Learning Outcomes: General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

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On successful completion of this module students will be able to...


  • demonstrate competence in both written and oral analysis and interpretation
  • think critically, in the above settings, about the use of evidence and the problems of historical interpretation posed by difference types of evidence
  • think critically about political ideas, economic conditions, and international relations

Assessment: Details of Assessment

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Examination (60%) of final assessment: students will sit a 2-hour unseeen exam, answering two questions across the whole of the unit, during the main summer period of examination

One essay (2000 words - 30% of total module mark) due at the end of the module and one gobbet (400-500 words - 10% of the total module mark). The gobbet is a written summary of a 15 minutes individual presentation of 10-15 minutes given in seminars. Feedback on the oral/gobbet CWA will be given within 10 days of students handing in their work so that it is formative. Essays will be individually handed back to discuss strenghts and weaknesses, as well as suggestions for improvement.


Curriculum Design: Single, Combined or Consortial Schemes to which the Module Contributes

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Major/combined/consortial programmes administered by History: History; History and Philosophy; History and Religious Studies; Social History.

Single Major/combined/consortial programmes administered by others: French Studies and History; German Studies and History; English Literature and History; History and International Relations; History and Politics; History and Music; History, Philosophy and Politics; Italian Studies and History; Spanish Studies and History.



Lancaster University
LancasterLA1 4YW United Kingdom
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