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HIST3166 The Crisis of Austria-Hungary Part 2

Module Overview

Building on Part I, which focused on perceived dynastic/national/social loyalties at home before the First World War, Part 2 imposes on that framework firstly a study of Habsburg foreign policy from c.1895 to 1914 and secondly a study of the empire in the First World War. Thereby it considers more closely for example the authorities’ anxiety about irredentist forces - various national groups or individuals who had contact with hostile neighbouring states (Serbia, Romania, Italy or Russia). Particular attention is paid to the Monarchy’s deteriorating relationship with Serbia, and how this then affected the governance of Croatia and determined the Empire’s ‘successful’ annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1908. The ‘Bosnian crisis’ is studied in detail. The fact that Serbia ought to be, but was not, acting submissively as a loyal satellite was then fundamental to the Habsburg elite’s paranoia by 1914. The module engages fully with the elite’s mentality in these years (1912-14) to show why the Empire was prepared to risk a European war after the Sarajevo murders. After this, it proceeds to study the Empire under wartime conditions when civilian and military loyalties were tested to the utmost. On the one hand, the threads from Part 1 about Hungary, the Bohemian lands and the Southern Slav regions can be picked up. On the other, the fresh trials experienced by Habsburg subjects at the front and in the hinterland are examined (eg, troop morale or the ‘sacrifice’ of women in Vienna). As national, economic and social grievances strengthened from 1917, so the Habsburg dynasty’s legitimacy weakened as the war could not be brought to an end. The module studies the ways in which the authorities tried to boost the imperial ideal: through propaganda, through national solutions, or even through imperial expansion (in the Balkans). But in the end (1918) the fiery combination of military defeat and social-economic insecurity served to delegitimize the Habsburg Monarchy and produce its disintegration.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To explore the domestic crises of Austria-Hungary in the wider international frameworks of Habsburg foreign policy and the First World War (c.1897-1918); • To introduce students to a broad range of primary evidence for this subject (memoirs, letters, propaganda material, with many archival sources translated by the module co-ordinator); • To build on a theoretical framework for testing imperial, national, social and provincial allegiances, by studying both extra-imperial allegiances and shifting loyalties in wartime.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Historiographical and conceptual approaches towards the Habsburg Monarchy’s stability or instability in terms of its foreign policy agendas and its wartime experiences
  • A wide variety of primary sources, offering divergent perspectives and opinions
  • The Habsburg/state authorities’ estimation of what constituted threatening behaviour both at home and abroad (especially with regard to the Balkan states)
  • The shifting relationship between dynastic and national loyalties in wartime
  • How the national struggles evolved in wartime, especially through the role of propaganda disseminated from outside the empire
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • utilise and develop your time-management skills
  • develop and improve your presentation skills
  • participate effectively in group discussion
  • locate and use effective textual, visual and material culture sources in the library and on-line, synthesising this material in order to develop cogent arguments
  • research historical questions and communicate your findings convincingly and concisely in written essays and reports
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyze primary evidence from different perspectives in a sophisticated way
  • Evaluate how the Empire’s foreign policy affected domestic crisis within the Monarchy, and how dynastic and national loyalties were affected by wartime fluidities
  • Reflect critically on the (English-language) historiography of Austro-Hungarian foreign policy and the wartime Empire


An indicative list of seminar topics would include • Foreign policy 1895-1914 • Authority and hostility • Neighbours • The Bosnian Crisis • The brink of War • The Habsburg Monarchy and WW1 • Gender, loyalty and war • Imperialism and propaganda • The disintegration of Empire

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • short presentations by students • group discussions including feedback from the tutor • detailed reading and analysis of the module texts Learning activities include: • preparatory reading, individual research and study prior to each class • preparing and delivering short presentations relating to specific aspects of the module • studying textual and visual primary sources • participation in group and class discussion In this module learning and teaching activities focus on helping you to explore and investigate the ideas and themes outlined above. Throughout the module you will also engage in directed and self-directed study, for example through pre-seminar reading and through library research. The presentations (by you and your fellow students) and your reading will provide you with a broad overview of the secondary literature, using the bibliography provided at the start of the module. The discussion generated by these presentations will provide you with the opportunity to explore the relevant major historical debates on a weekly basis. In addition, you will study in depth a range of primary written and visual sources, as well as surviving material culture. These sessions will allow you to prepare for the essay and examination exercises. Feedback on your progress and development will be given via seminars and group discussions. Responses from tutor and your fellow students to your presentation will also give you formative feedback.

Follow-up work258
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Bridge, F.R. (1990). The Habsburg Monarchy among the Great Powers 1815-1918. 

Biondich, M. (2000). Stjepan Radic and the Croat Peasant Party. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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