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History: Western Europe: The History of Western Europe after 1945


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


The course describes and analyses the main trends of political, economic, social and cultural developments in Western Europe in the 20th century. The focus is on the post-war period, allowing forward reflection and a link to the economics, politics and society of the second year.


  1. Europe at Zenith, 1900 and WW I
    1. The Interwar Period, 1919-1939; the case of GB
    2. Fascism and the Response to Nazism: European Politics 1933-1939
    3. The Rise of the Nazis and WW II
    4. From Hot to Cold War, 1942-1949
    5. Reconstruction in Western Europe, 1945-1951
    6. The Soviet Bloc, 1945-1964 and Communism in Decay, 1965-1985
    7. Western Europe, the Cold War, and Decolonization: Adjusting to a Diminished World Role
    8. Consumer Societies in the West, 1950-1968
    9. Western European Politics, 1968-1989: Recession, Democratization, Détente
    10. Western Europe since 1970: Societies and Cultures Transformed; Science, the Arts and Intellectual Life
    11. The Revolutions of 1989 and After.

Course objectives

Students acquire thorough knowledge of the Western European history after 1945 from a ‘transnational’ perspective, understanding the relationship between political, economic and social developments.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week, four tutorials spread out over the semester.

Assessment method

One essay (30%), a midterm and a final exam (together 70%)


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Robert O. Paxton & Julie Hessler, Europe in the twentieth Century (5th ed.; Wadsworth: Boston 2012).


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable