Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 50 minute seminars (1 per fortnight)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour closed examination  70%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate awareness of the causes, dynamics, processes and key events of the French Revolution

Demonstrate awareness of the historiographical debates about the French Revolution.

Demonstrate an ability to use and reflect critically upon a range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Express understanding, in written (assessed) and oral forms (unassessed), within an academic context.

Demonstrate an ability to work independently and collaboratively.

Demonstrate the skills appropriate to the study of modern European history and produce work in a professional manner.

Brief description

The French Revolution introduced a period of rapid social, political and economic change in both France and Europe. New ideas about personal and political freedom, social equality and the rights of men and women were fiercely debated, bringing in their wake bloodshed and war. These new ideas, as they spread, brought permanent change to the political map of Europe and to how Europeans, including the British, came to think about their social and economic systems. In this module, students will look at the causes as well as both short and long-terms outcomes of the French Revolution. Starting with a look at the eighteenth-century state and the period of Enlightenment, we then go on to look at the causes of the Revolution and at competing historiographical explanations. We will then spend four weeks understanding the major events and actors in the Revolution, before proceeding to look at the changes it brought about in France and Europe, including the rise of nationalism and the role of ideologies in creating competing visions of society. Finally, we will look at some long term cultural legacies and at how the Revolution was remembered at its bicentennial in 1989.


This module will introduce students to the history of the French Revolution and to the historiographical debate that has taken place since. The French Revolution is frequently taken as one of the crucial founding events of modern Europe, introducing elements of our political vocabulary such as `left¿ and `right¿ and modern notions of the nation-state. Debates in the historiography of the French Revolution provide important examples of how history has been written and re-written according to different theories of historical change and different climates of political and historical opinion. The module aims to provide students with an understanding of scholarship on the French Revolution whilst allowing them to pursue these themes in some more detail by focussing on specific themes and issues. It aims as well to develop skills of research, historiographical debate, analysis and communication.



1. Liberté, égalité, fraternité: An introduction to key themes and events
2. The ancien régime and the eighteenth-century state
3. The Enlightenment
4. Causes of the Revolution: Part One
5. Causes of the Revolution: Part Two
6. From the Estates General to the Storming of the Bastille
7. Political liberation and the quest for stability
8. European reactions and the road to war
9. Robespierre and the Terror
10. Rebellion in the Vendée
11. The Directory
12. The Rise of Napoleon
13. The Napoleonic Wars
14. Repercussions and the rise nationalism
15. The political legacy: the age of ideology
16. Cultural legacies
17. The French Revolution in film
18. When did the Revolution end?

1. Enlightenment in Action?
2. The Estates General and the books of grievances
3. The Rights of Man
4. Terror
5. Napoleon

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Read a wide range of both primary and secondary texts; improve their listening skills during the lectures, and consequently develop skills in note taking; demonstrate and develop the ability to communicate ideas in two essays; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but unassessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs; devise and apply realistic learning and self-management strategies; devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals and to develop personal awareness of how to improve on these.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to access information on CD-Roms and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. Students will be encouraged to debate via Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course in progression; plan and prepare for future course / career.
Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.
Research skills Understand a range of research methods and plan and carry out research; produce academically appropriate pieces of written work.
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different sources relevant to the study of the French Revolution; develop the ability to use appropriate historical research tools effectively.
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamics; contribute to the setting of group goals; contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars); exercise negotiation and persuasion skills; evaluate group activities and own contribution.


This module is at CQFW Level 4