Become a historian and learn how history’s most dramatic events – revolutions – have shaped our world

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • 2-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

From France in 1789 to Tunisia in 2010, revolutions have reshaped our world. They have felled ancient dynasties, dissolved great
empires, deposed powerful rulers, reconfigured economies, erased time-honoured customs, and profoundly altered people’s expectations and attitudes. Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World explores these extraordinary events in all their variety and complexity.
Beginning with the French Revolution and ending with the Arab Spring of 2010-11, this module introduces students to revolutions that have taken place across the entire globe, and over the course of more than two centuries. Whilst the primary focus is political, we will also evaluate revolutions in technology, manners, and culture. The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, and the green revolution of the twentieth century – to take two examples – fundamentally changed the course of history. In light of this we will take a broader view of revolutions, which encompasses but also goes beyond the study of political revolts.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

Barricades and fires in Tunisia, at the beginning of the Arab Spring (January 2011)

By the end of this module you will:

  • Acquire a systematic knowledge of some of modern history’s most important revolutions.
  • Become familiar with the variety and complexity of the past through class debate and discussion.
  • Learn how to critically analyse historical sources through class debate and a source analysis written exercise.
  • Find, evaluate, and synthesise evidence drawn from a wide range of sources. Assessed by written analytical essays.

Indicative core content


Topics covered include:
1. Introduction: theories of revolution;
2. Utopia and terror: the French Revolution;
3. Slavery overthrown: the Haitian Revolution: p. 9;
4. Energy unleashed: Britain’s Industrial Revolution;
5. Worldwide revolt: the 1848 Revolutions;
6. China’s cataclysm: the Taiping Rebellion;
7. Night’s end: the sleeping revolution;
8. Tsarism destroyed: the Russian Revolution;
9. Anarchism and anticlericalism: the Spanish Civil War;
10. Hubris and nemesis: Nazi Germany;
11. ‘Destroy the old, establish the new’: China’s Cultural Revolution;
12. Imperialism’s end: decolonization in the twentieth century;
13. Nature’s bounty: the Green Revolution;
14. Religious revolution? Secularization in Britain;
15. Revolutionary women: Britain in the twentieth century;
16. Against Westernization: the Iranian Revolution;
17. 1989: Communism’s collapse;
18. The power of protest: ending apartheid in South Africa;
19. Dissent and demographics: the Arab Spring.


  • Coursework: Essay - 2000 words (50%)
  • Coursework: Essay - 2000 words (50%)

Key information

  • Requirements: You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 5 course. See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"Great module!"
"I really appreciated how the lecture provided us with different content from our everyday lectures, approaching a new topic every week. While we might not be experts in each of those, the additional content is still available if we wish to learn some more about them."
"The module is really fascinating... a fresh change of mind between all this science."