An Introduction to Twentieth Century History

Ref: C2422798

In 2008 I completed a Masters in C20th history. When I started teaching adult education this was my first course. It is modeled closely on my MA studies. It starts by examining the world around 1900 before looking at the watershed formed by the Great War. That war was a catastrophe for Europe. From the war emerged an ideological conflict, initially between Liberal Democracy, Communism and Fascism that would lead eventually to a second, even greater catastrophe for Europe. With the defeat of Fascism in 1945 we move on to examine the bi-polar world of the Cold War. In 1989-91 those post-war structures in Eastern Europe collapsed. How and why that happened brings us to the second great watershed of the century. Our focus will be primarily political, economic and strategic. We will examine ideas as well as events to understand not just how but why events unfolded. If your primary interest is social history this may not be the course for you, except as the background to peoples lives.

Course aim

Our world has been shaped by the history of the C20th. This course provides an introduction to the key ideas, events and personalities of the 'short' C20th from the Great War to the end of the Cold War.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

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

  • Explain in broad terms the narrative of C20th (European) history.
  • Discuss the key political ideas which drove the ideological struggle of the period.
  • Explain why Fascism and Communism collapsed and Liberal Democracy survived.
  • Explain the decline of European influence and the rise of America and latterly China.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

If you wish to undertake some optional pre-course reading I suggest one of: Dark Continent by Mark Mazower The Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm A History in Fragments by Richard Vinen

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

An Introduction to Twentieth Century History


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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