HST3162/3163: Protest and Democracy in Postwar Europe

40 credits (semesters 1 and 2)

Module Leader: Dr Andrew Tompkins



A pass in at least two history modules at level two.


Module Summary

This module will explore the history of protest since 1945 within and beyond Europe, with a view to understanding social movements and how they seek to effect political change. Protest research in history and the social sciences has focused on widely varied actors, forms, traditions, and issues, leading to very different conclusions about why and how protest occurs. This course will emphasise the merits and limits of particular approaches for answering different historiographic questions such as those about long-term continuities between movements, the synchronisation (or not) of protest across borders, and why protest activity appears to rise and fall dramatically. The course will examine movements from the 1950s to the early 2000s, focusing in particular on pacifism, student protest, feminism, 'New Social Movements', international solidarity, and globalisation.


This Special Subject aims to familiarise you with major debates about protest and to show how they can be addressed from different methodological and disciplinary perspectives. It will also encourage you to think about relationships between protest and 'democracy', both by showing how social movements in Western European liberal democracies have contested meanings of the term and by examining how protest has functioned in non-democratic contexts such as in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Finally, these and other, non-European examples (including from the United States and Japan) will be brought together in an effort to provoke you to consider the interplay between transnational processes or circulations and local specificities (which may or may not be tied to national politics).

Teaching and Assessment

This module will be centred on twice-weekly discussions addressing the historiography of protest on the one hand and the methods and primary sources for writing such history on the other. Suggestions as to topics and empirical cases you would like to see included in the module will be solicited at the beginning of term. Active participation in discussion is essential to this Level 3 module. You will rotate responsibility for moderating/leading discussion. You will also formulate your own thoughts on readings and discussion in informal, weekly posts to the course web page.

Selected Reading

  • To follow.


Intended Learning Outcomes
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