Faculty of Arts


Old Regime and Revolution in France c.1750-1815


Two centuries after the collapse and destruction of what revolutionaries called the "Old Regime", the French Revolution continues to be recognised as one of the founding events of modern history. Yet it remains a deeply enigmatic and controversial event.

Revolutionaries seemingly invented (or reinvented) political liberty and civic equality, democratic suffrage and human rights; but they also invented (or reinvented) gender discrimination and political terror, ideological war and modern dictatorship. Given this rich blend of tragedy and farce, it is no surprise that the Revolution continues to feature in our discussions of politics, society and culture as well as our understanding of the "modern" world.

This course offers an introduction to the French Revolution as both European crisis and world-historical event. A background in European or French history, while helpful, is not required. The weekly lectures offer basic historical orientation, while seminar readings, discussions and coursework go beyond the lectures to explore major problems of interpretation.

Topics for the semester include the origins of the Revolution, the collapse of the "absolute" monarchy, the radical experiment of mass democracy, the global contexts of slavery and emancipation and the Revolution’s modern legacies and disputed meanings.

The course will explore various approaches—the "social history of ideas", gender analysis, political culture, public opinion, universal rights theory—that have influenced the historiography of the French Revolution and are relevant to other fields of history.

HISTORY 324 shares lecture time with the Stage II version of this course (HISTORY 224), but the assessment schedule, reading load and participation expectations for HISTORY 324 are considerably more rigorous. This is because Stage III courses are designed to provide an in-depth exposure to current historiographical and research issues.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2019

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Joseph Zizek

Recommended Reading

Jeremy D. Popkin, A Short History of the French Revolution, 5th ed., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2009 [previous editions also acceptable]


Coursework only


HISTORY 324: 15.0 points


15 points at Stage II in History and 60 points passed



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