Course Name and Number: History of the Contemporary World (22927)

Degree: Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Year: 1º Semester: 2º

ECTS Credits: 6

Number of Student-Dedication Hours: 150

Language: English (lectures) and Spanish (seminars)

Professor: Stephen Jacobson, Departament d'Humanitats, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Office Hour: Mondays, 15.30 - 16.30 (20. 263)



This module covers major themes in European and global history during the twentieth
century, the most violent in world history. It begins with a "Europeanized" world in the
aftermath of the First World War and concludes with a multipolar world of the new
millennium characterized by a shift of economic and demographic power from West to
East. The course module traverses the significant events of the century - the totalitarian
states of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia; World War II and the Holocaust; the Cold
War between superpowers; decolonization in Asia and Africa and the foundation of the
United Nations; the Chinese Civil War and the Cultural Revolution; the world
revolutions of 1968; the "transition to democracy" in Europe and Latin America. It
concludes with two case studies relevant to today's world -- the Iranian Revolution of
1979 and the Israel- Palestine conflict. The focus will concern two overarching themes -
- the major ideologies of the century (liberalism, republicanism, fascism, communism,
and post-1989 neo-liberalism) and the global and imperial reconfiguration of world



This course addresses the five basic competences (hereinafter "BCs") common to the
degree according to the following scheme.
By the end of the course module, students will have successfully developed the ability

BC1: Demonstrate knowledge of the basic elements of twentieth-century European
and world history, and will have explored some of the most recent theoretical
developments within the field.

BC2: Apply such knowledge in the field by elaborating and defending theories of
historical causality in order to resolve debates concerning change and continuity in the
twentieth century.

BC3: Interpret the past in order to reflect critically upon ethical, social, and scientific
dilemmas taking place in the world today.

BC4: Transmit theories and explanations concerning historical questions to a
specialized and non-specialized audience.

BC5: Utilize acquired learning skills to confront postgraduate studies with a high
degree of autonomy.

Specific Competences: This course module addresses the following specific
competences (hereinafter "SCs") common to the area of history and philosophy
according to the following scheme.
By the end of the course, students will have demonstrated the ability to

SC1. Evaluate the history of the major ideological, political, economic and technological
mechanisms at work within the contemporary, globalized, and cosmopolitan world, the
social conflicts they generate, and their implications for all of humanity.

SC3. Inter-relate the various paradigmatic theories used to explain change and
continuity in the twentieth-century world in order to explain the historical underpinnings
of contemporary society.

SC4. Enter debates about local and global phenomena taking place in the
contemporary world after analysing diverse ideological, theoretical and normative
approaches common to historical inquiry.

SC5. Integrate knowledge of the history of the contemporary world with philosophical,
political and economic approaches to the subject.

SC6. Analyse the social and political diversity present in the contemporary world
through the basic tools of historical inquiry -- the identification of a historical
problematic and the examination and interpretation of primary and secondary source

SC11. Develop opinions based on ethical criteria that address fundamental social,
scientific and economic issues present in a local and global context using historical

SC12. Formulate critical opinions and develop arguments explaining historical
outcomes, employing precise terminology, specialized methods, and relevant source

Learning Outcomes:

- To acquire essential concepts, skills, and analytical methods needed to explore
diverse historical phenomena taking place in the twentieth century.
- To understand the local, national, regional, and global aspects of diverse historical
- To situate primary source materials (press accounts, memoirs, novels, etc.) relevant
to a given event in twentieth-century history within their temporal and political and
societal context.
- To distinguish and define the principal ideological and cultural milieu characterizing a
given historical time and place.
- To analyse the forces of continuity and change present in a given historical time and
- To identify the mechanism used to maintain the nuclei of global power as manifest in
alliances and institutions.



1. Old and New Empires from the Congress of Berlin to the End of World War I, 1884-

1.1. The "Europeanization" of the world: The liberal and republican empires of
Great Britain and France
1.2. The Munroe Doctrine in the twentieth century: United States power in
the western hemisphere
1.3. The emergence of Japanese power in East Asia

2. Fascism and Germany's Bid for European Dominance
2.1. The Versailles system and national self-determination
2.2. Economic consequences of war and peace
2.3. Fascism and Nazism in Italy and Germany
2.4. World War II
2.5. The Holocaust and the extermination of European Jewry

3. Communism and the Reconstitution of the Russian Empire
3.1. Marxism, Leninism and the ideological foundations of the Soviet Union
3.2. Stalin, the show trials, and the five-year plans
3.3. Economic and social "successes" of Stalinism
3.4. The political price of success: Totalitarianism and the Gulag System

4. The Wars for Asia, 1914-1952
4.1. Japan's peaceful penetration and military expansion
4.2. World War II in Asia and the birth of the atomic era
4.3. Independence and partition of British India
4.4. Civil war and revolution in China

5. The Cold War, 1945-1989
5.1. The Bipolar World of the superpowers (1945-1969)
5.2. The multipolar world of the era of Détente (1969-1981)
5.3. The renewal of east-west tensions (1981-89)

6. Decolonization and Informal Imperialism
6.4. Decolonization and the foundation of the United Nations
6.5. Decolonization in Africa: the curse of economic stagnation
6.6. Decolonization in Asia: the rise of the East Asian tigers
6.7. Dictatorship, underdevelopment and US informal imperialism in Latin

7. The World Revolutions of 1968
7.1. Aftershocks of decolonization in the developed world: Algeria,
Cuba, China, Vietnam and the rise of the "New Left" in Europe and the United
7.2. Paris '68, the Prague Spring, and other student protest movements (Berlin,
Belgrade, Rome, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Tokyo)

8. Transitions to Democracy
8.1. The first wave: Spain, Portugal, Greece and Argentina
8.2. The racial version: The end of Apartheid in southern United States and
South Africa
8.3. The second wave: The fall of the Berlin Wall and the transition to
democracy in eastern Europe
8.4. Democracy goes awry: The "Clash of Civilizations" in Yugoslavia and the
former Soviet republics

9. Case Studies of the Middle East
9.1. The British and U.S Coup of 1953 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979
9.2. The Israel-Palestine Conflict, 1948 - present

10. The Emergence of a New Global System, 1989 - present
10.1. Iraq and Afghanistan: The end of the United States empire?
10.2. Economic crisis in the north Atlantic and the rise of the BRICS in the
south Atlantic and Asia
10.3. Global society in the new millennium



Students will be evaluated according to their ability to acquire the basic and specific
competencies and the learning outcomes outlined above. Students will be evaluated
based on their participation and performance during lectures and seminars in addition
to their written work.
The evaluation will consist of two parts -- continuous and final. Continuous assessment
takes into account participation during class and seminar and the results of the written
assignments. The final assessment consists of a final exam.
In order to pass the course, students must pass BOTH the continuous-assessment
exercises and the final exam.
The specific nature and the respective weight of continuous-assessments assignments
and the final exam will be presented on the first day of class and posted on the virtual
classroom (aula global).
"Recovering" a failing mark (Sistema de recuperación):
In order to be eligible for the sistema de recuperación, students must have participated
in at least half of the continuous-evaluation exercises and have taken the final exam.
Such students will have received a failing mark (suspenso). Students who do NOT
participate in at least half of the continuous-assessment exercises and/or do NOT
appear for the final exam receive a No Presentado and are not eligible for the sistema
de recuperación.
The specific rules concerning recuperación as well as the date of the substitute exam
will be outline on the first day of class and posted on the aula global along with the
specific weights and preponderances of the evaluation.



The basis of the course module consists of a series of lectures (clases presenciales) in
which the professor will outline and discuss the above-mentioned themes,
concentrating above all on theoretical and interpretative aspects. In order to be able to
follow the basic narrative (and to engage with the more advanced and theoretical
questions posed), students must undertake background readings before attending
Seminars will focus on selected case studies. Required readings for the seminars will
consist of a selection of primary and secondary source materials contained in a
coursepack. The specific nature of each seminar session, and the required readings
and assignments, will be outlined on the first day of class and posted on the virtual
classroom (aula global).
Students must demonstrate a disciplined ability to work autonomously, to keep up with
the readings and written assignments, and to attend class and seminar. Class and
seminar participation will form an important part of the global evaluation of the course



English-language textbooks on twentieth-century world history

Pamela Crossley, Lynne Hollen Lees and John W. Servos, Global Society: The World
Since 1900, 3d. ed. (Cengage Learning, 2012)

William J. Duiker, Contemporary World History, 5th ed. (Cengage Learning, 2009)
Richard Goff, Walter Moss, Janice Terry, Jui-Hwa Upshur, and Michael Schroeder, The

Twentieth-Century and Beyond: A Global History, 7th ed. (McGraw Hill, 2007)
Carter Vaughn Findley and John Alexander Rothney, Twentieth-Century World, 7th ed.
(Cengage Learning, 2011)

The following English-language textbooks on twentieth-century European history are
also helpful. Spanish-language editions are also available.
Simon J. Ball, The Cold War. An International History, 1947-1991 (London: Arnold,

Philip M.H. Bell, The World since 1945: An International History (London: Arnold, 2001)
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: History of the World, 1914-1991 (Vintage,
1996). Spanish edition also available.

Mary Fulbrook, Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Spanish
edition also available.

Julian Jackson, Europe, 1900-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Spanish
edition also available.

Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, reprint ed. (Penguin, 2006).
Spanish-language edition also available.

Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (Vintage, 2000). Spanishlanguage
edition also available.

Robert O. Paxton and Julie Hessler, Europe in the Twentieth Century, 5th ed.
(Cengage Learning, 2011)

Joseph Smith, The Cold War, 1945-1991, 2d. ed. (Blackwell: 1998)

Richard Vinen, A History in Fragments: Europe in the Twentieth-Century (London:
Abacus, 2000). Spanish-language edition also available.

The following Spanish-language books are also recommended:

Rafael Aracil, José Oliver, Antoni Segura, El mundo actul. De la Segunda Guerra
Mundial a Nuestros Días (Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona, 1995)

Serge Bernstein, Los regímenes políticos del siglo XX: Para una historia política
comparada del mundo contemporáneo (Barcelona: Ariel, 1996)

Julián Casanova, Europa contra Europa (Barcelona: Crítica, 2011)

Josep Fontana, Por el bien del Imperio. Una historia del mundo desde 1945
(Barcelona: Pasado y Presente, 2011)

Giusepe Mammarella, Historia de la Europa contemporánea desde 1945 hasta hoy
(Barcelona: Ariel, 1996)

José Urbano Martínez Carreras et. al. Historia del mundo actual (Madrid: Marcial Pons,

Marc Nouschi, Historia del siglo XX. Todos los mundos, el mundo (Madrid: Cátedra,

Javier Paredes (coord.), Historia universal contemporánea (Barcelona: Ariel, 1999)
Guiliano Procacci, Historia general del siglo XX (Barcelona: Crítica, 2001)

Gabriel Tortella, La Revolución del siglo XX. Capitalismo, comunismo y democracia,
(Madrid: Taurus, 2000)

Ramón Villares and Ángel Bahamonde, El mundo contemporáneo, siglos XIX y XX
(Madrid: Santillana, 2001)

Fernando Veiga, Enric Ucelay-Da CaL, Ángel Duarte, La paz simulada. Una historia de
la Guerra Fría, 1941-1991, 2d. ed. (Madrid: Alianza, 2006)

Pasquale Villani, La edad contemporánea 1914-1945 (Barcelona: Ariel, 1997)