European History since 1815

Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Trends

Karl VocelkaJuly 19 – July 304 ECTS credits


Europe changed in the last 200 years dramatically: borderlines moved, economy and society changed, there were breaks and continuations in the development of all countries. Without looking to the long history of the European continent one cannot understand Europe of today.

Many phenomena of the 19th and 20th century had a large impact on the identity constructions of European countries. Discussions about phenomena like former political structures, multi-nationalism, national identity, minorities etc. between participants of different countries and cultures will allow comparisons and connect this class to problems of the present. The course attaches great importance to culture, as this topic is - talking about Europe - often neglected.


The course deals in a broad way with all European countries, but has a clear focus on Central Europe and will cover the following topics:

  • What is Europe? Antique heritage, Christianity, Enlightenment
  • European Countries 1815 – 1918 – 1945 – 1989
  • Political systems in Europe including Fascism and Communism
  • Demographic development – urbanization – migration – genocide
  • Nationalism – national states versus multinational giants
  • The East West conflict and the Iron Curtain
  • The building of the European Union
  • Economic development (industrialization, mechanization of agriculture, colonialism, globalization)
  • Social changes (from a class society to modern society)
  • Selected examples of cultural changes (e.g. The birth of modernity around 1900 scientific progress and ecological ideas, the impact of digitalization and modern media)


Requirements: Attendance and participation in class discussion constitute 30%, a short paper 30% and a written final (essay-type) 40% of the grade.