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Europe 1914-1989: war, peace, modernity

This module will give you an overview of Europe's twentieth-century history. It begins with Europe on the eve of the First World War and ends with the reunification of Germany at the end of the Cold War. As well as analysing political and military developments, it will introduce you to the key themes in Europe’s economic, social, medical and cultural history. A central focus of the module is how historians have studied the period. You will be introduced to historical debates, and to the vast resources for the study of twentieth-century history that are now being made available online.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
A327
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The three key themes of this module are the:

  • ways that war was waged in Europe and how this changed the continent
  • different forms of peace, which were always more than just an absence of war
  • industrial and technical transformation of the whole of Europe.

This module will open up the breathtaking variety of electronic resources on twentieth-century history which have transformed our ability to carry out historical research and scholarship wherever we are. It will teach you the skills of independent study through learning about this period, so you are able to see the big pictures more clearly, and know how to find out more for yourself.

Beginning with the First World War, which marked the end of the old order in Europe, you’ll study the war’s causes and the war itself. It was a period of technological advances, but inevitably this total war left its mark on every state in the continent, and destroyed many of them. It also enabled some existing socialist and nationalist movements to gain state power for the first time.

During the first half of the interwar period, it appeared that the crises arising from the First World War would be resolved largely within a framework of liberal democracy and internationalism. In the second half, under the stress of the world economic crisis, political systems buckled and the era became a consciously 'pre-war' one. Attempts in Italy, Germany and Russia to create fundamentally new societies achieved varying degrees of success at the cost of immense human damage. Despite the economic crises, technical and social changes continued throughout the period. You will gain an impression of these changes, as well as the ability to see their inter-relationships.

You will learn about the causes of the Second World War, with an eye on the way that the historiography has developed over the century, and is not resolved even today. You will examine the relationship between war, society and technology via several case studies, including one on the development of penicillin. The history of medicine features in the module to illustrate wider points about social and technical history. The effects of the war on the post-war order will also be considered.

The Cold War was a total war of another kind, and the 'waging of peace' becomes a key theme in the second half of the module: broadcasters and religions were mobilised in the struggle, as were more conventional socio-economic factors. Soviet-style Communism attempted to provide a coherent alternative to the liberal-democratic mainstream. The year 1968 was a watershed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The momentum of both the Western European 'golden age' and the Eastern experiment with autarchic socialism had slowed down. In the final part of the Cold War, the West's (slowing) growth, and the more compelling social vision that it embodied, brought victory in 1989.

During the post-war period, competing Great Powers were (in theory) replaced by allied and integrating blocs. But was Great Power rivalry really dead?

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit some of your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). Your assignment booklet will tell you which method of submission you should use for each assignment.

Future availability

Europe 1914-1989: war, peace, modernity starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2024.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    Examination
    No residential school

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU. You should already have some of the skills appropriate to study of history at this OU level. 

    This module is open to all students who are suitably prepared but if you intend to study for the BA (Hons) History, you must have first successfully completed either Early modern Europe: society and culture c.1500-1780 (A223), The British Isles and the modern world, 1789–1914 (A225) or Exploring history: medieval to modern 1400–1900 (A200) (now discontinued).   

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    You may find it helpful to do some background reading of the set book, Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2024.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 17/07/2018.

    What's included

    Study books, primary and secondary sources as PDFs and through The Open University Library, audio visual material, website.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    Materials to buy

    Set books

    • Mazower, M. Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century Penguin £12.99 - ISBN 9780140241594

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying A327 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.