Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST20D1: The Nazi Dictatorship: Culture and Society

Department: History

HIST20D1: The Nazi Dictatorship: Culture and Society

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 1 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to key theories and historiography relating to the history of the Third Reich, World War II and the Holocaust
  • To apply these to appropriate historical context and content relating to mid-twentieth-century Germany / Europe, including original source material.
  • To develop an understanding of the history of culture and everyday life in the Third Reich
  • To contribute towards the achievement of the Department's generic aims for study at Level 2.


  • Widely considered to be one of the most destructive and murderous political regimes in history, National Socialism under Hitler’s dictatorship still exerts an extraordinary hold on the popular imagination. This course will explore culture and society during the Third Reich in depth, focusing especially on the experience of everyday life under Nazism. How was the regime able to seduce or terrorise its citizens into compliance, and how did National Socialist rule enable Germans to become willing facilitators of genocide? What were the consequences of Nazism for those excluded from the new German “racial community”? How did German society change during the war years, and was World War II in essence a “German war” or a “National Socialist” war for those Germans who fought in it?
  • We will also consider key historiographical approaches to the Third Reich which have emerged over the past few decades, ranging from long-standing debates about consent and coercion to the first results of cutting-edge research on the formation of “bystander societies” in Nazi Germany and beyond.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and historiographical debates on Nazi Germany, World War II and the Holocaust.
  • Knowledge and understanding of relevant historical context and content relating to mid-twentieth-century Germany / Europe.
  • Critical use of historiographical concepts, theories and source criticism, especially with reference to cultural history and everyday life.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be introduced to primary source analysis, and should gain preliminary skills to evaluate both archival and oral historical sources.
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • lectures to set the foundations for further study and to provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection;
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subjectspecific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
  • Assessment:
  • Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources. Summative coursework will test students’ ability to communicate ideas in writing, present clear and cogent arguments succintly and show appropriate critical skills as relevant to the particular module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 16 in Term 2; 1 in Term 3 1 hour 17
Seminars 7 7 in Term 2 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen open book examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework assessment consisting of a short essay (max. 2,000 words) or assignment of equivalent length e.g. source commentaries 2,000 words excluding footnotes and bibliography. 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination and to practice writing to similar word limits

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University