Guillotines to the Kaiser: A Brief History of France and Germany 1789-1914

Ref: C2340652

France and Germany have produced some of the most sublime cultural achievements, yet also engaged in some of the most destructive confrontations. Beginning with the origins of the French Revolution, this course traces their historical development, explaining how each has defined the other, Europe and the wider world.

Course aim

Assessing the French Revolution and German unification, this course aims to understand how the achievements, failures and identities of both countries have often been sustained by conflict but also co-operation.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Understand the historical development of France, such as its fluctuations between revolution and reaction
  • Account for German unification and re-assess the so-called ‘German Problem’
  • Comprehend why it was difficult for France to keep out of European conflicts
  • Explain the origins of German nationalism and the country's path to war in 1914
  • Discuss why the French often perceived themselves as different and why Waterloo was so significant for Germany

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Although optional, any of the texts recommended by the tutor would enhance the weekly group discussions and participants' personal development.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Students could further develop their critical thinking skills and an understanding of other societies’ cultures and attitudes

Download full course information sheet

Guillotines to the Kaiser: A Brief History of France and Germany 1789-1914

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This course has been cancelled.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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