Module code: POL1019

Module Overview

The 20th Century was full of contradiction: devastating world wars, intra-state conflict, revolution and economic disaster were met with recognition of the right of peoples to determine their own future, of an international human rights agenda, of unprecedented systemic institution-building in order to promote and perpetuate peace and economic growth that extended far beyond the “first world”. This module will review key events and processes of the 20th Century in order to identify and understand the circumstances under which such major change came about. Students will therefore be required to acquire a detailed knowledge and understanding of international history and actors in the twentieth century. Students will develop and apply knowledge of International Relations theorising acquired in other modules, including the historiography of IR theorising, in order to be able to identify and understand the dominant theoretical thinking of a particular time, and will be able to understand the use of history both within the discipline and by political actors.

The module engages the global and cultural structures of power within which the discipline of International Relations is embedded; the evolution of capitalism and the sustainability of contemporary international political economy; and the resourcefulness and resilience required for processes of revolutionary change.

Module provider


Module Leader

KITCHEN Nicholas (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 97

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes the following:

History and historiography; history as method; historical sociology of IR; black swan events; decolonization; war and change; globalization; political and economic ideology.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY PLAN 30
Coursework ESSAY 70

Alternative Assessment

Not Applicable

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  • Detailed knowledge of historical subject matter

  • Critical engagement with the concept and uses of history

  • The ability to present and develop a clear argument

  • The ability to analyze an issue (rather than merely describe it)

  • Critically evaluate an approach or competing approaches

  • The ability to engage feedback to develop their thinking

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

An essay plan (30%)

The full essay based on the plan (70%)

Formative feedback will be provided in a number of occasions throughout the module. 

Module aims

  • To introduce students to major political, economic, social and cultural processes and events (national as well as international) which have shaped contemporary international relations, increasing cultural and global intelligence
  • To provide a historical complement to relevant parts of modules POL1012 Introduction to Politics and POL1013, Introduction to International Relations, as well as the foundations for modules in Levels 5 and 6.
  • To introduce students to the methodological use of history in social science and International Relations, demonstrating applicable skills for employability.
  • To introduce students to basic time-management and workload planning and management skills, enhancing employability
  • To search in digital resources for information and various databases enhancing digital capabilities.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a coherent grasp of the historical context of international events and their influence on the evolution of contemporary international relations. KC
002 Understand the place of the study of history in International Relations, both within the discipline and for political actors. KC
003 Describe and analyse a range of contemporary historical phenomena including different interpretations of causes, effects and significations offered by historians and/or political actors. KCPT
004 Demonstrate the ability to apply theory in such a way as to help develop a critical analysis of key historical events. KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Encourage work both independent and group work

  • Facilitate critical thinking

  • Enhance analytical skills

The learning and teaching methods include:

11x1 hour lectures, 11x1 hour seminars, prescribed reading , group discussions, debates. In addition, captured content and digital resources will be provided via SurreyLearn.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL1019

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Public Affairs MPA 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Relations BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.