Modern Revolutions

Purpose of Course  showclose

In the 1970s, the Chinese Communist leader Zhou Enlai was asked to assess the outcomes of the French Revolution of 1789.  He supposedly answered: “It is too soon to say.”  Though this story has a somewhat apocryphal status, it captures a fundamental truth about the world in which we live: it is a world which has been shaped by revolutions, and their legacies are always difficult to evaluate.

In this course, you will gain a better understanding of the modern world by studying some of the most important political revolutions that took place between the 17th century and today.  You will seek to understand the causes of each revolution, analyze the ideologies that inspired the revolutionaries, examine revolutionary uses of violence, and consider how historical revolutions still shape contemporary politics.  Close and critical readings of historical sources will be crucial in this process.

The course begins with a theoretical analysis of revolutions and a careful examination of pre-revolutionary Europe and the Enlightenment.  Subsequent units examine the English Revolution of the 17th century; the American and the French Revolutions, which are often described as the crucible of modernity; the Mexican Revolution, which changed the history of Latin America; the Russian and the Chinese Revolutions, which sought to create Marxist states; the Iranian Revolution, which created an Islamic Republic; and finally, the Eastern European revolutions of 1989, which brought about radical changes without recourse to violence.

By the end of the course, you will be able to identify commonalities and differences among these revolutions and understand how—individually and collectively—they transformed the modern world.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to HIST362. Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements. 
Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials. However, it makes primary use of the following materials:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1, as this lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the later units.  You will also need to complete:
  • The Final Exam 
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the quizzes and problem sets listed above.
At the end of the course you will also need to complete the Final Exam.  In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of approximately 137.25 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time.  It may be useful to take a look at these advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 4 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 and 1.2 (1.5 hours) on Monday night, and subunits 1.3 and 1.4 (2.5 hours) on Tuesday night.  Then, move on to Unit 2 and complete subunit 2.1 (3 hours) on Wednesday night; subunit 2.3 (2.5 hours) on Thursday night; etc. 
Tips/Suggestions: This course covers a very broad range of information, and it is essential to keep careful notes as you study.  Review your notes from previous units before starting a new unit, so that comparisons between the various revolutions will be more easily apparent and you will be able to think through them with the necessary facts at hand.  In addition, making timelines and refining them as you study is a very useful strategy when learning new historical information.  As you add events to your timelines always ask yourself why you are choosing them, and what role they played in the course of each revolution.

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
? Provide a concise historical narrative of each of the revolutions presented in the course.
? Identify the origins and causes of each revolution, and compare revolutions with respect to their causes.
? Analyze the goals and ideals of the revolutionaries, and compare how these functioned in various modern revolutions.
? Discuss how revolutions in various parts of the world have affected women’s rights.
? Analyze how religious and secular worldviews came into conflict during times of upheaval and revolution.
? Discuss the patterns and dynamics of revolutionary violence, and evaluate how revolutionaries have used nonviolent tactics against oppressive regimes
? Evaluate connections between revolutionary ideologies and revolutionary events.
? Analyze how the legacies of each revolution are present in modern politics..
? Describe and evaluate competing theoretical models of revolutionary change.
? Interpret primary historical documents.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” of the history discipline: HIST102, HIST103, and HIST104.

Unit Outline show close