Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST30M1: The Habsburg Empire: from Enlightenment to Collapse, 1740-1918

Department: History

HIST30M1: The Habsburg Empire: from Enlightenment to Collapse, 1740-1918

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level 2 module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an understanding of the political, social and cultural dynamics of the Habsburg Empire in the modern period
  • To engage with and critically re-assess diverse traditions of Habsburg historiography
  • To position the Habsburg legacy historically and in a comparative perspective within the broader studies of the empire
  • To contribute towards meeting the generic aims of Level 3 study in history


  • The collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 resulted in the dramatic redrawing of the map of Eastern and Central Europe and was followed by the rise of Nazism. Was the empire doomed from the start and hence an insignificant player on the map of modern Europe? In 1913 Vienna, Hitler, Trotsky, Tito, Freud and Stalin all lived in the city, not too far away from the palaces of the ailing Emperor Francis Joseph and Archduke Franz Ferdinand. What was the role of the royal dynasty, prominent administrators, politicians and cultural figures in keeping the empire together? Did nationalism, anti-Semitism and other ideologies seriously threaten the functioning of the empire? Was the creative fin-de-siècle culture that made Vienna an epitome of the modern metropolis truly so decadent as to contribute to the empire’s collapse? Relying on a critical analysis of historical scholarship and a careful reading of primary sources, this module proposes to provide individual, preliminary answers to these questions so pertinent to the study of the empires in the modern period.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • An understanding of the complicated and changing political and ethno-national map of Central Europe and the Habsburg Empire in the modern period.
  • A capacity to engage with several competing traditions of Habsburg historiography and a set of methodological skills to analyse primary sources from diverse regions of Central Europe.
  • A historically sensitive positioning of the Habsburg legacy in a comparative perspective within the broader studies of the empire.
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

  • enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2; 2 in Term 3 1 hour
Seminars 7 4 in Term 1, 3 in Term 2 1 hour
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words not including footnotes or bibliography 100%
Component: Exam Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seen Examination [paper to be made available not less than 72 hours before the start of the examination] 2 hours 60%

Formative Assessment:

Written assignment(s) of 1000-2000 words submitted in Michaelmas Term.

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