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10 cp from 100-level units in History or Politics and International Relations

Unit rationale, description and aim

To study Europe's postwar political history is to examine events and developments of global importance and relevance. In this unit students will learn about the European origins of the Cold War, the division of the continent into two rival political blocs, and the re-unification of Europe following the collapse of Eastern European communism in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Students will also have the opportunity to investigate the histories behind some of the key political issues facing Europe today, such as Brexit, the rise of populism and the revival of nationalism. Students will apply a variety of historical methods and approaches, and work with different types of primary and secondary sources, in order to investigate and research major topics. Where appropriate, the unit will focus on specific nation or theme-based case studies in order to 'drill down' into key issues and debates.
The aim of this unit is to develop students' capacity to examine historically key political events and developments in Europe since the end of World War Two.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of post-war Europe and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it (GA5, GA6)

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to European history since 1945 to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, G10) 

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of European history since 1945 and the methods that historians have used to research it (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key historical debates relating to real-world situations/case studies in post-war Europe over time. (GA4-6) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Nation-based, thematic or comparative case studies will be selected to examine, as relevant, the following: 

  • The origins of the Cold War in Europe 
  • The division of Europe 
  • Eastern Europe during the Cold War 
  • Western Europe during the Cold War 
  • The collapse of Eastern European Communism 
  • Europe since the Cold War 


The unit will also develop active history theory and techniques including: 

  • Advanced techniques in locating and using primary and secondary sources  
  • Historical approaches used in the research and analysis of nineteenth-century Europe

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit embraces active learning by taking the form of a face-to-face class containing activities through which students will:  

1) gain a deep understanding of the content covered in the unit.  

The active learning activities in this unit include reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving aimed at promoting analysis and synthesis of class content, paying particular attention to the dynamics of historical debate about relevant topics. Students may also use case studies to assist them in this process.  

2) develop and hone skills fundamental to the discipline of history, including the development of methods for working with and interpreting primary sources; the ability to identify relevant and high-quality secondary sources and incorporate them into their own research and analysis; the ability to process extensive amounts of historical information and identify what is most relevant and valuable; and to communicate their findings in a style appropriate to their audience. 

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In the History discipline, second year units are designed to include a selection of the following assessment tasks: 

  • Active research tasks that require students to find and use primary and secondary sources 
  • Digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases 
  • ‘Hands on’ historical methods such as oral history, textual and visual analysis, etc. 
  • Research essay/challenge  
  • In-class debates or team challenges 
  • Forums/blogs/online discussion 
  • Short answer responses 
  • Short quizzes/in-class tests 
  • Tutorial-based assignments/presentations 

Students in this unit will be encouraged to: develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a particular country (or countries); (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past.  

Before attempting advanced level research essays or summative analysis later in the unit, students need to develop a strong foundational knowledge of how to locate, read and analyse primary and secondary sources on key elements of the history of European history since 1945. The first analytical task is designed to improve students’ capacity to work with and interpret evidence found in primary and secondary sources. This may take the form of tasks that require students to use digital search techniques to locate and critique set primary and secondary sources, or independently to find and assess sources that they consider appropriate and relevant to the topic at hand. The task assesses LOs 1-3. Students then build on the techniques and knowledge developed in the analytical task to undertake an independent research task. The task will require students to construct an evidence-based historical narrative or argument on a specific historical issue, debate, or event. The research task assesses learning outcomes 1-4. This may take the form of a research essay, presentation, or debate. The final, summative, task assesses how well students can draw together knowledge and skills developed in the unit to provide sound historical analysis of one or more of the unit’s key themes. The summative task assesses learning outcomes 2- 5. This task will usually take the form an examination or essay. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Analytical task The key purpose of this task is for students to develop skills in locating and using primary and secondary sources. Skills developed in this task will help prepare students for the research task.  


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA3, GA4, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Research task The key purpose of this task is for students to demonstrate research, writing and analytical skills to produce an evidence-based argument that demonstrates critical reading skills and an awareness of ethical and/or historical debates on a topic relating to the unit content.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Summative task This task assesses how well students can draw together knowledge and skills developed in the unit to provide sound historical analysis of one or more of the unit’s key themes. 


The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise. 



GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Dedman, D. The Origins and Development of the European Union, 1945-2008. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009.  

Dinan, D. Europe Recast: A History of European Union. 2nd edn. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 

Dinan, D., Nugent, N., and Paterson, W. E. (eds). The European Union in Crisis. London: Palgrave, 2017. 

Gaddis, J. L. The Cold War: A New History. London: Penguin, 2006. 

Gerrits, A. Nationalism in Europe since 1945. London: Palgrave, 2016. 

Gilbert, M. Cold War Europe: The Politics of a Contested Continent. London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015. 

Laures, K. (ed). A Companion to Europe since 1945. Chichester: Wiley, 2014. 

Rothschild, J., and Wingfield, N. Return to Diversity: A Political History of Eastern-Central Europe since World War Two. 4th edn. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 

Ther, P., and Hughes-Kreutzmüller, C. Europe Since 1989: A History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. 

Swain, G., and Swain, N. Eastern Europe since 1945.  5th edn. London: Palgrave, 2017. 

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