Napoleon and Europe

This information is for the 2020/21 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, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics 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.

HY319 is available to General Course students starting in the Michaelmas Term ONLY in 2020/21.

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 in 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.


Learning engagement activities will include preparatory small group work, presentations, and live discussion.

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%, 3500 words) in the ST.
Document analysis (20%) in the LT.
Presentation (20%) and class participation (10%) in the MT and LT.

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: 11

Average class size 2019/20: 11

Capped 2019/20: Yes (15)

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