Napoleon and Europe

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Keenan SAR 2.13


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The Napoleonic Empire was crucial in the formation of modern Europe. Much of Europe was covered by the Napoleonic Empire and its impact was felt across large parts of the non-European world. The influence of the emperor and his policies was most obvious in relation to the European international system, particularly through his military campaigns and his territorial reorganisation of Europe n the wake of his successes. However, the Napoleonic era also saw major developments in the legal, constitutional, social, and economic order of many states, whether allied or opposed to the Napoleonic project. Likewise, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, much attention is paid to the impact of the Napoleonic era on the relationship between Church and State and the rise of national consciousness, whether in political or cultural terms. By studying how Napoleon's empire was created, challenged, and ultimately defeated, the course will focus on the nature of power and legitimacy in this era. An attempt will be made to place the Napoleonic empire in a broader context, in part by comparing it to other contemporary, rival states, including Russia, Austria, and the United Kingdom. Finally, the course will begin and end with an assessment of the Napoleonic myth, both in terms of his contemporaries and for subsequent generations of historians.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.

Indicative reading

A full reading list will be provided at the beginning of the course. Useful introductory reading includes: M. Lyon, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution; G. Ellis, The Napoleonic Empire; C. Emsley, Napoleon: Conquest, Reform and Reorganisation; M. Broers, Europe under Napoleon, 1799-1815; C. Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars; S. J. Woolf, Napoleon's Integration of Europe; P. Dwyer (ed.), Napoleon and Europe; P. Geyl, Napoleon, For and Against.


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Other (20%) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) and class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.

The other assessment in the LT involves a 2000-word document analysis.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2016/17: 28

Average class size 2016/17: 14

Capped 2016/17: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills