History of Spain (in English)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Course Description

  • Course Name

    History of Spain (in English)

  • Host University

    Universidad Pablo de Olavide

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, History

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    This survey course traces the political, socio-economic, cultural, and religious history of the Iberian Peninsula from Prehistory to contemporary times. While your main focus in this course is upon the lands and peoples of what has today become Spain, you will also examine the creation of Portugal, the interaction of Spain with European and North African neighbors, as well as her complex relations with her overseas empire and later former colonies. You will come to appreciate that the Iberian Peninsula was, and in many ways still is, a historical crossroads of western Mediterranean societies, cultures and peoples. Bearing this in mind, you will investigate the rich culture and civilization of the many peoples who put down roots in these surprising lands: native Iberian peoples, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, German tribes, Arabs, Berbers, and modern immigrants– all of whom together set the course for making of Spain a World Empire and later member of the new European Union.

    The Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula began in pre-Christian times with Rome’s defeat of the Carthaginians at Ilipia just outside Seville, one of the most important events of the Classical World, marking as it did the birth of the Roman Empire. For the next 500 years, Rome would give Spain its language, its law and political institutions but also its culture and architecture.

    The Fall of Rome marked the birth of Europe and the later 8th century invasion of Spain by the Semitic-speaking Arabs and Berber allies who so richly contributed to the history of Spain. AlAndalus, as the Iberian Peninsula was called by the new Muslim rulers, became the center of intellectual, cultural and scientific creativity in Western Europe in the 11th century. It is here that the greatest works of the Classical World would be preserved and translated for the later “discovery” by Christian Europe.

    While the Catholic conquest of Iberia visited misery upon Muslim and Jewish populations, it also produced fortune-seeking soldiers who, after 1492, turned their ambitions for wealth and adventure overseas, this time as New World conquistadors, transforming Spain from war-torn country to world Empire. You then trace the complicated history of 18th and 19th century Spanish society that gave rise to the Kingdom of Spain in the mid-19th century. This is the kingdom that underwent the many political convulsions that later made the Franco Regime possible. You conclude your survey with an appreciation of post-Franco Spain, the return of democracy and the vibrant cultural renaissance of Spain over the last 30 years.

    Course Goals and Methodology
    By the end of the semester, the student should be able to organize and interrelate different historical events and periods as they relate to the creation of modern Spain, to trace chronologically and account for the arrival of different cultures and peoples that called “Spain” home during their respective historical periods. For example, the student should be able to identify and describe the historical significance of the different religions that developed in Spain (e.g. Arians, Trinitarians, Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestants, etc.).

    Required Readings:
    -William D. Phillips & Carla R. Phillips, A Concise History of Spain. (2010)
    -Raymond Carr (ed.), Spain: A History. (2000)

    Additional Bibliography:
    -Simon Barton, A History of Spain. (2004)
    -Olivia R. Constable (ed.), Medieval Iberia. (1997)
    -Jon Cowans (ed.), Early Modern Spain (2003) & Modern Spain. (2003)

    Course Requirements and Grading
    Participation is very important, and each of you is expected to contribute enthusiastically and to be courteous while in class, whether is online or in the classroom. The participation grade will take into account your initiative and creativity during the different activities scheduled during the course, but also any outside activity that you participate in. You must come prepared to class, which means that you are required to read the assigned chapters prior to class, and you are expected to arrive on time.

    There will be two examinations: a midterm and a final, both of which are composed of both an essay part and a series of short answer questions. To prepare for these short answer questions there will be three quizzes; we may also have surprise quizzes, which won't have a negative effect. There will also be small commentary of primary sources (2-3 pages) due later in the semester. A previous, and voluntary commentary, will due in the beginning of the semester. Further information will be given in due course.

    The student will be provided with a short guide on how to write an historical commentary. The purpose of these small assignments is to provide the student with a first-hand account of the events discussed in class, as well as permit the student to critically think and analyse historical documents.

    The final grade is broken down as follows:
    -Participation 10%
    -Quizzes 3 30% (10% each)
    -Text Commentary 10%
    -Midterm & Final Exam 50% (25% each)

    Course Schedule & Content Areas
    Unit 1 - Introduction & pre-Roman Iberia:
    Session 1 – Introduction & the Iberian Peninsula: its geography and its people.
    Session 2 & 3 – Prehistory I: from the Palaeolithic to the Metal Ages & Natives Cultures.
    Reading: Phillips, Preface/Chapter 1.
    Session 4 & 5 – Ancient History I: Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians & Romans.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 2; Carr, chapter 1.

    Unit 2 - Rome & Early Middle Ages:
    Session 6 & 7 – Late Antiquity & Early Middle Ages: fall of Rome to the Germanic invasions.
    Reading: Carr, chapters 2.

    Unit 3 - Late Middle Ages & Early Modern:
    Session 8-11 – The Middle Ages: from the Visigoths to the peninsular unification.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 3; Carr, chapters 3.
    Session 12 & 13 – The creation of the “modern state”: from the Catholic Monarchs to Philip I.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 4.
    Session 14 – Paper commentary DUE: this a practice commentary, no grade will be given. Midterm Exam. (March 13th)

    Unit 4 - Modern History:
    Session 15 & 16 – 16th Century: from Charles I to Philip II (birth of an Empire).
    Reading: Carr, chapter 5 & 6.
    Session 17 & 18 – 17th Century: from Philip III to the Spanish War of Succession.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 5; Carr, chapter 7.
    Session 19 & 20 – 18th Century: from the Bourbons to Bonaparts (1700-1808).
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 6.

    Unit 5 - The 19th century:
    Session 21 & 22 – 19th Century: 1808-1898.
    Reading: Carr, chapter 8. 

    Unit 6 - Contemporary History:
    Session 23 to 24 – 20th Century: 1898-1931 & 1931-1939 (2nd Republic)/Civil War documentary.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 7; Carr, chapter 9.
    Session 25 & 26 – 20th Century: 1939-1977 (Franco Regime) & 1977-Today.
    Reading: Phillips, chapter 8.
    Session 27 – Final Exam. (Date/time TBA). Paper commentary due – NO EXCEPTION

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work; others help us improve the user experience. By using the site, you consent to the placement of these cookies.

Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.