Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Nationalism, Totalitarianism and Democratization: Czechoslov
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 5 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   (1 x 1.5 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,000 word supplementary (resit) essay  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   1 x 1.5 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate an understanding of the key historiographical debates concerning the place of Czechoslovakia in European history.

Demonstrate an understanding of national identity, Stalinism, Communist reformism, post-Stalinism and dissent in Czechoslovakia.

Evaluate the nature of ‘totalitarianism’ and of ‘civil society’.

Evaluate a range of primary sources related to the ideas and activities of ‘Reform Communists’ and dissidents in Czechoslovakia.


The module is designed to alert students to the variety of sources available to contemporary historians, and in particular to the problems historians encounter in seeking to understand closed societies in which there is no freedom of expression, and thus no such thing as public opinion. It draws on samizdat documents and literature, memoirs, and the writings of Czechoslovaks who emigrated in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of their country in 1968.

Brief description

This module addresses the character of government, dissent and opposition in Czechoslovakia. It is concerned with five key problems. First, it explores the establishment and changing nature of Communist rule, distinguishing between the phases of Stalinism, of 'socialism with a human face' and of 'late socialism'. Second, it discusses the relationship between Czechoslovak society and its rulers, engaging with the endeavors of independent dissident movements to generate a sense of active citizenship and to 'empower the powerless' in a totalitarian state. Third, it examines the causes of the collapse of Communist rule and the problems of transition which faced Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Fourth, it asks why - in spite of the wishes of the majority of the population - Czechoslovakia was broken up in the aftermath of Communist dictatorship. Finally, how was national identity constructed and what meanings were attached to national history in Czechoslovakia?


1. Introduction
2. The Making of Czechoslovakia
3. The First Czechoslovak Republic and its Destruction: 1918-1944
4. The Origins and Development of the Czechoslovak Communist Party
5. From Democracy to Communist Dictatorship, 1945-1948
6. The Stalinist Regime, 1948-1962
7. Origins of the Prague Spring
8. 'Socialism with a Human Face'? 1968
9. The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia
10. 'Normalization'
11. 'Actually Existing Socialism': Communism without Ideology, 1969-1989
12. Dissent and Charter '77 i): organisation and impact
13. Dissent and Charter '77 ii): 'The Power of the Powerless' – the dissidents’ ideas
14. The Causes of the Velvet Revolution
15. The Course of the Velvet Revolution, 1989
16. The Break-up of Czechoslovakia, 1990-1993
17. 'The Deserts and Coasts of Bohemia': When, Where and What was Czechoslovakia?
18. Conclusions: Constructs of Identity, Myths of Martyrdom and Strategies of Survival

1. Czechoslovakia, the Second World War and its Aftermath
2. The Stalinization of Czechoslovakia, 1945-1962
3. The 'Prague Spring', 1968: Reform Rule in a Communist State
4. 'Post-totalitarianism': The Normalised Regime and Dissent, 1969-1988
5. From Velvet Revolution to the Fragmentation of Czechoslovakia, 1989-1993

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop knowledge of sources and historical literature relating to the history of Czechoslovakia in the twentieth century.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 4