Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST2411: The Romantic Revolution in Europe, 1770-1840

Department: History

HIST2411: The Romantic Revolution in Europe, 1770-1840

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to a period of immense cultural vitality in Europe, and to encourage them to consider what sets this period apart;
  • To encourage students to engage with a wide array of different sources, and so challenge them to connect general political history and the history of ideas with specific cultural artefacts;
  • To make students reflect on the different ways in which historians, art historians, musicologists and literary critics approach this period, and to consider the advantages of different methods of analysis;
  • To equip the students with a grasp of classic and more recent historiography on Romanticism, to better understand what has been at stake in studies of this period.


  • The module focuses on a period in European history that arguably sees not only a revolution in politics but also in cultural and intellectual life, and which came to be felt across the whole continent.
  • Romanticism offers an excellent case-study for thinking about the connections between political, commercial and cultural change from the late eighteenth century, and how this varied according to geography and chronology. This module will allow students to reflect upon a movement whose assumptions and whose vocabulary continue to inform much of modern European culture.
  • Often responding directly to the challenge of the French Revolution, Romantic thinkers and artists were hugely influential in reshaping ideas of state and nation in the early nineteenth century. But Romanticism cannot be understood just in texts; it has to be explored in images, in monuments, in music and in objects. So this module asks important questions about how historians periodize and classify different cultural materials, and about the challenges inherent in writing transnational cultural history.
  • Romanticism was also inextricably linked to shifts in historical consciousness, and in how Europeans thought about the passage of time and the burden of the past. .

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Awareness of the diverse forms that Romanticism took across Europe, and an understanding of how this diversity was related to different political and social contexts;
  • Understanding of how the key political turning points and social transformations occurring in Europe between 1770-1840 made major impacts on cultural activity;
  • Understanding of changing attitudes to time and history in the decades around 1800, and how these attitudes carried profound intellectual and political implications;
  • Understanding of the relationship the way in which new aesthetic forms connected with a popular revolution in artistic and cultural consumption.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/ModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/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 subject-specific 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:
  • 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. The additional summative assignments will test knowledge and skills specific to the module, such as analysis of relevant primary sources, or critical engagement with the historiography as demonstrated through book reviews and article abstracts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 Term 1 1 hour 16
Seminars 7 Term 1 1 hour 7
Preparation and Reading 177
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography 100%
Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment or assignments 1,000 words total, not including footnotes and bibliography where relevant 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative benefits from the 1,000 word summative assignment and from work done during and in preparation for seminars.

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