Instructors: Dr. Neil Thornton

Introduction: This course offers a general survey of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the west to the end of the Cold War.  It will cover many of the major events, trends and turning points of this long period using a variety of approaches (political, social, cultural).  It assumes no prior knowledge of European history from students.  One focus in the fall term will be the role of the Roman Catholic Church.  This term will finish with the Renaissance and Reformation.  The winter term will cover the early modern and modern periods of European history and will include topics such as the European witch hunt, Absolutism, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and Napoleon, industrialization, ideologies, the growth of nation states, and war.

Class Format: There is one two-hour lecture each Friday between 11:35 and 1:25. Students will also attend a one-hour discussion group most weeks.  These discussions will be based on assigned readings of primary documents or academic articles.

Aims and Goals: One goal of this course is to introduce students to the wide range of topics in European history such that they will be drawn to upper-year courses that offer more specialized approaches to regions and time periods.  Another is to gain skills in analyzing primary documents and journal articles.  The discussions will, it is hoped, develop techniques of presenting evidence and participating in debates about historical questions.

 Assessment: There will be an exam during the formal exam period of each term.  The exam in April will only cover material from the winter term. Each exam is worth 25% of the course total.  Students’ participation in discussions will be worth 10% of the final mark.  Students will write three or four papers (still to be decided) worth a total of 40% of the final mark.

Text: There is no assigned text as readings will come from web-based documents and academic articles.  If you can get a second-hand western civilization textbook without mortgaging your future, you may find it a useful resource, but this is not a requirement.

Questions? Please email me at: