Not available in 2022/23
The Napoleonic Empire: The Making of Modern Europe

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Paul Keenan SAR.2.13


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International and Asian History and MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The Napoleonic Empire was crucial in the formation of modern Europe. Much of Europe was dominated by the Napoleonic Empire and its impact was felt across the continent and in parts of the non-European world. Through an analysis of both those areas directly incorporated into the Napoleonic empire and of those that lay beyond it, this course will examine the extent of the direct and indirect influence of this era on the development of what we understand by a modern European society and a modern state system. The course analyses how this empire was created, as well as the states and societies that it forged. The varied and sometimes contradictory elements of this era will be analysed - from the impact of the growth of secularisation, constitutionalism and the codification of laws to the beginnings of Romanticism, manifestations of early nationalism and monarchical reaction after 1815. The course will also assess the significance of both the reality and the 'myth' of empire, in the assessment of contemporary observers and also in the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The course will cover the following topics: the origins of the Empire; changes in armies and warfare; analysis of the changing nature of the Napoleonic Empire from the core to the periphery; the impact of the Empire on countries that remained beyond it; Europe's relationship with the non-European world during this period; the diplomacy of war and the 'system' that emerged after 1815; the impact of the Napoleonic era on the modernisation of society, the economy, law and the state; early manifestations of nationalism in the Italian and German lands, Spain and Russia; reaction against the Napoleonic 'system' after 1815. The course will also assess the significance of both the reality and the 'myth' of Napoleon and his empire, for contemporary commentators and also in the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


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

There will be a reading week in the MT and the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT, 1 essay in the LT and 1 essay in the ST.

The third essay will be a mock exam answer, which can be completed by students over the Easter break. It will be graded and students given written feedback in the first week of Summer Term.

Indicative reading

A detailed Reading List will be issued at the beginning of the course.


Useful introductory works include: G. Ellis, Napoleon; G. Ellis, The Napoleonic Empire; M. Broers, Europe under Napoleon 1799-1815; S. J. Woolf, Napoleon's Integration of Europe; P. Dwyer (ed), Napoleon and Europe; C. Esdaile, Napoleon's Wars: An International History; O. Connelly, Napoleon's Satellite Kingdoms; P. Geyl, Napoleon, For and Against.


Essay (35%, 3500 words) in the LT.
Presentation (15%) in the MT and LT.
Take-home assessment (50%) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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