The Evolution of Modern Europe

HIST 125/6.0

A survey of Western and Central Europe and Great Britain from about 1750 to 1950. The focus is on the revolutions which produced modern Europe, notably the political revolutions (1789 and 1848), industrialization, urbanization, population growth, secularization, the rise of new classes, and changes in ideologies and popular attitudes.


The Evolution of Modern Europe is a course designed to introduce you to important aspects of European social, cultural, political, economic and intellectual history during the past several centuries. The twelve lessons are meant to guide you chronologically through this span of history, providing you with both a narrative and an analytical exploration of modern Europe.

Threading its way through the lessons will be the overarching theme of "modernness." This may seem obvious given the title of the course, but we wonder how many of you paused to reflect on what it means to refer to Europe as modern. Certainly those of us living in "Western civilization" have been profoundly shaped by what's happened in Europe since its tremendous devastation at the hands of the Black Death some six centuries ago.

Three broad aims apply to a course like this. First, you should gain some general knowledge of the period, along with some appreciation of the complex forces that have moulded modern Europe. The assigned readings will introduce you to varying and at times diverging interpretations of specific historical developments and questions. You don't have to treat these readings as final authorities. Think about them, question them, constructively criticize them - you're free to agree or disagree with the perspectives of the authors, and with the unifying theme of the course for that matter. As in any survey course, all that can be provided here is a place to begin thinking about the subject matter. But it's hoped that by the time you complete the course, you'll have gained a sense of some of the major themes, theoretical questions, and conceptual debates that have occupied historians of Europe.

This raises the second aim of the course, which is to introduce you to a number of different kinds of historical problems. In your assignments and exam you'll have an opportunity to develop and demonstrate your skills as a historian, by identifying patterns which tie together and give meaning to masses of facts and by creating arguments about those patterns of meaning.

Finally, through your assignments and the feedback you receive on them, you should learn about historical method, the presentation of evidence, and the writing of historical papers. In short, it's hoped that this course will sharpen your ability to analyze past events, and will enable you to reconstruct the past imaginatively and critically. Good luck in your endeavours. I hope you find it a stimulating and worthwhile learning experience.


Essay 1750-1000 words (3 pages)10%
Essay 21500-2000 words (6-8 pages)10%
Essay 31500-2000 words (6-8 pages)20%
ParticipationBlackboard Collaborate Sessions20%
Multiple Choice Tests (x4)Every five/six weeks20% (5% each)
Proctored Final Exam 20%


  • The Origins of Modern Europe
  • Europe under the Old Regime
  • The Age of Enlightenment
  • The French Revolution
  • Napoleon and the Aftermath of the Revolution - Conservatism, Romanticism, Liberalism and Nationalism
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The Rise of the Nation State, New Imperialism and Social Darwinism
  • World War I - The First Modern War?
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The Rise of Totalitarianism in Interwar Europe
  • World War II and the Cold War Division of Europe
  • The Collapse of Communism and the Challenges of European Intergration


Welcome to our course! A few words about myself: I was born and raised in Russia, a country, which has always been uncertain about its place in Europe and about modernity in general. After witnessing the collapse of the USSR, I moved to the West to explore what was truly a New World to us.

I got my MA and PhD in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. My research interests mostly focus on 20th century history. Most recently, I co-edited a collection of documents on World War I and the Russian Revolution. My dissertation examined the origins of the Cold War and I recently published an article examining the role of Soviet reporters at the Nuremberg trial of Nazi leaders in 1945-46. I am also more broadly interested in the ways culture influences the development of international relations.

In the course of the past few years, I have taught a number of European survey courses and seminars. Here is one question that we have to confront from the outset: how relevant is Europe to our modern, increasingly globalized world? Major 20th century conflicts like World War I, World War II, and the Cold War originated in Europe and our world is a very different place because of them. But neither these cataclysms, nor present-day Europe happened out of the blue. Our course will allow us to examine Europe's experience with modernity more closely and over a broader period of time.

I look forward to working with you. I believe there are three prerequisites to our success. First: reliable communication channels. Never hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. E-mail is the best way to get in touch, but I will also have regular Skype office hours (see below). Second: continuous engagement. We have to make sure to keep up with our readings and assignment schedule. Last, but not least: this is history, so let's enjoy it!

Leonid Trofimov

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

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Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.