UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


Modern European History & Politics

Find out more about the Modern European History & Politics foundation subject on the UPC. Learn about what you will study, teaching methods, assessments and recommended reading.

Key information

Subject title: Modern European History & Politics (MEHP)

Subject type: optional

UPC pathway: UPCH

Subject leader: Will Richards

Number of students (2022-23): 27

Subject description

The Modern European History & Politics foundation subject is a thematic course. It combines the study of historical events/movements with analysis of the political ideas and principles of government which have shaped modern Europe.

It is an optional subject on the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Humanities (UPCH) pathway.

The course explores how the past is interpreted in different ways. During this Modern European History course, you’ll question the writers of history and their motives. You’ll also explore competing political theories, and how they understand ideas such as the state, systems of government and citizenship.

Topics include:


  • The Enlightenment & The French Revolution 1748-98
  • Nations and nationalism (Europe) 1798-1878
  • Political morality (Machiavelli’s The Prince)
  • The state (Hobbes’ Leviathan)
  • Ideology (Marx’s Communist Manifesto)
  • Democracy: historical ideas, key concepts and 21st century populism
  • The Cold War
  • International relations

How we teach Modern European History & Politics

Teaching includes a weekly mixture of lectures and seminar sessions. You’ll write a 3,000-word research project on a course-related topic of your choice. You’ll have regular tutorials in which you can discuss course content and your research projects.

There are two field trips: one to the Houses of Parliament, the other to the historic town of Margate.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the subject, you should be able to:

  • work on research projects, developing these with independent research, from proposal through to the final submission stage
  • engage with debates on modern European history and politics
  • think critically about the nature and limitations of different evidence and form convincing arguments from this
  • deliver convincing and well-argued presentations about relevant topics on this Modern European History subject
  • understand different approaches and methods used specifically in history, politics and international relations, and more generally in the humanities and social sciences

Overview of Summative Assessment

 Research Project30%
ThreeOral Exam20%
 Final Exam40%
  100% Total

Assessment weighting is for the 2022-23 academic year. This may change for 2023-24 entry.

Recommended reading

If you would like to do some reading before starting the subject, we recommend:

  • William Doyle, The French Revolution: A very short introduction, 2001.
  • Andrew Heywood, Politics, 2013 (especially first five chapters)
  • David Mason, A Concise History of Modern Europe: Liberty, Equality, Solidarity, 2011 (for students who have no background in European history).

Subject selection guide

Please check out our optional subject selection guide for information on suitable subjects for your future degree plans.

Please note the information on all the UPC subject pages, including this one, reflects the subject as it was taught in the 2022-23 academic year (unless otherwise stated).