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Revolutionary movements in modern Western society


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


The use of violence for political ends should not be necessary in a democratic society. There are nevertheless many organisations in such societies that try to obtain their objectives in that manner. Within Europe one could think of nationalist movements striving for local independence such as the Basque ETA and the Irish IRA, but also of social-revolutionary groups like the Red Brigades or the Baader-Meinhof Group and possibly religiously motivated terrorists.
This Research Seminar will start of with an attempt to formulate hypotheses on the phenomenon of revolution on basis of some theoretical literature regarding questions such as: Under which conditions do people begin to use force as a means to obtain political objectives? How do revolutionary organizations manage to obtain support? How do governments react to their actions? Etc. After this general introduction each student will have to test some of the hypotheses by applying them to one of the revolutionary organisations.

An entry test is part of this course. This will be held in the second hour of the first meeting and deals with the following book: Charles Tilly, European Revolutions, 1492-1992 (any edition).

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques; * 2) The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 3) The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical pr)blem;

  • 4) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 5) The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  • 6) The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • 7) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 8) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 9) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 10) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;

  • in the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities: international comparison and transfer; the analysis of the specific perspectives of secondary studies; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  • 13) gains insight into the concepts of revolution and political violence, and the theoretical discussion concerning this.

  • 14) acquires the ability to formulate a testable research question based on theoretical knowledge.

  • 15) gains specialized knowledge on a specific revolutionary movement

  • 16) (ResMA only:) acquires the ability to interpret a potentially complex corpus of sources

  • 17) (ResMA only:) acquires the ability to identify new approaches within existing academic debate

  • 18) (ResMA only:) acquires knowledge of the interdisciplinary aspects of the specialisation


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Entry test: 10 hours

  • Lectures: 24 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 40 hours

  • Oral presentations: 26 hours

  • Essay preparation, research and writing: 180 hours

Assessment method


  • Written paper (6500-7500 words, based on research in primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 13-15 (ResMA also: 16-18

  • Entry test
    measured learning objectives: 13-15

  • Oral presentations
    measured learning objectives: 3-7 (ResMA also: 16)

  • Participation
    measured learning objectives: 7-9


  • Written paper: 70 %

  • Oral presentations: 20 %

  • Participation 10 %

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

Reading list

Will be shared at the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J. Augusteijn