War, Genocide and Nation Building. The History of South-Eastern Europe 1914-1990

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Anita Prazmowska SAR M.09


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

May be taken by 3rd years where regulations permit.

Course content

The course aims to explain the history of these regions as expressed and moulded by the peoples and their leaders during a particularly turbulent period in European History. Attention will be paid to two European wars and the Russian Revolution, all of which had a profound impact on these countries' freedom to determine their destiny. The study of the inter-war period will include a debate of the reasons for the collapse of democratic institutions, the emergence of patriotic and anti-Semitic movements, economic failures and responses to German and Italian aggression. The establishment, development and the collapse of Soviet domination of the region after the Second World War will be discussed on the background of ethnic and inter ethnic conflicts. In addition political, economic and cultural theories, which formed the background to the emergence of the independent states of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, will be considered. The course will develop these themes in the history of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania and the Baltic States. Final lectures will concentrate on the transition from Communism to democratic states. The break up of Yugoslavia and the wars in the Balkans will be considered in a separate lecture.


Recorded lectures. Classes will be on campus or via Zoom, as circumstances dictate. There will be a reading week in Michaelmas and Lent terms.

Formative coursework

One essay in the MT, one essay in the LT and a timed essay as exam preparation.

Indicative reading

R J Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century (1994); S K Pavlowitch, A History of the Balkans 1804-1945 (1999); I Y T Berend, Decades of Crisis. Central and Eastern Europe before World War II (1998); A J Prazmowska, Eastern Europe and the Outbreak of the Second World War (1999); P G Lewis, Central Europe since 1945 (1994); T Rakowska-Harmstone, Communism in Eastern Europe (1979); G Swain & N Swain, Eastern Europe since 1945 (1993); F Fejto, A History of the People's Democracies; Eastern Europe since Stalin (1971); J Rothschild, Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II (1990); G Stokes, The Walls Came Tumbling Down. The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe (1993).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2019/20: 16

Average class size 2019/20: 8

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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