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The 20th Century: Europe in Three Wars

Organizing institution
Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities (UU)
Course code
Course fee (incl. housing)
€ 1175
Bachelor level

When asked about the twentieth century, most people’s first association are either Hitler or the Second World War. But during the twentieth century, Europe not just experienced one, but three horrific wars: the First and Second World War and the Cold War that followed in their wake. Oftentimes, the first half of the 20th century has therefore been labelled “The Era of Violence”, and perhaps rightly so. But this century might as well be regarded as an age of rebuilding, transatlantic collaboration, and global connections, thus making the twentieth century much more diverse.

This course will introduce you to a variety of questions relating to the First and Second World Wars: Why did these wars occur and what caused them to happen? What were the consequences on a human and political level? How did international society deal with it? What circumstances caused the Cold War to follow in its aftermath? You will study questions pertaining directly to these three wars, but you will also gain insight into major changes that took place in other areas of society. These changes included the way people lived, new political ideas and ideologies, key economic developments and profound progress in science and technology. The 20th century may have seen more technological and scientific progress than all the other centuries combined since the dawn of civilization. You will receive lectures on a variety of historic topics; spanning not only the histories of the three wars, but also topics such as international cooperation and multilateralism, which resulted in international organizations such as the United Nations, the relation of the United States to Europe, the fall of communism and decolonisation. You will also be taken on a number of excursions, for example to the Jewish quarter in Amsterdam, to the old battlefields in Ypres and to Brussels, the capital of the EU.

Tags: first world war, second world war, cold war, global connections, internationalization, era of violence

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Dr. Jaap Verheul and Marijke Huisman


Students of the humanities and social sciences, including economics and business, political sciences, European studies, international relations, history, culture studies and sociology, the sciences and engineering at senior undergraduate or graduate level with an interest in culture, society and politics.


At the end of this course, students should be able to:
• Describe and evaluate different theories and conceptualisations of the wars and other historic development of the twentieth century
• Discern and analyse key factors of the various wars, expanding international relations and other related phenomena
• Demonstrate an understanding of the political, socio-economic and cultural aspects causing these developments
• Demonstrate this knowledge and understanding in written and verbal form.


A minimum of:
7 lectures
4 seminars
1 day excursion
1 exam
1 certificate ceremony


• € 1175 - Course + course materials + housing
• € 825 - Course + course materials


» Overview of all available discounts


Utrecht Summer School doesn't offer scholarships for this course.


Utrecht Summer School
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Deadline for registration: 15 July 2017

Course fully booked