Course Description

Course Name

Contemporary Spanish History (in English)

Session: VSVS1121

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Prerequisite: open to all language levels; taught in English.

Students: foreign students from the academic program ISA.

Class meetings:

Contact hours: 45

Course Description:

This course will help students to understand current events in Spain as well as the idiosyncrasy of the Spanish people through the study of Spain’s most recent history (from the Napoleonic invasion to the economic crisis today).

In order to make the learning experience closer to reality, some of the documents used in class are primary sources (speeches, declarations, laws passed, excerpts from newspapers, videos, films, etc.).

Course contents will be dealt with working individually and in groups.

Outcomes assessment:

- Understand the main historical process that has shaped modern Spain

- Develop critical skills to connect historical facts with their political, social, economic and cultural consequences in contemporary Spain.

- Analyze and critically discuss the main problems that current Spain faces.


UNIT 1 – INTRODUCTORY UNIT What do you know about contemporary Spain? CIS Polls results

Political structure

Languages in Spain and the projection of Spanish language

A chronology of key events (1492- 1910)

UNIT 2 - REGENERATIONISM AND POLITICAL REVISIONISM The crisis of 1909 and 1917 The colonial war in Morocco

UNIT 3 - PRIMO DE RIVERA DICTATORSHIP Primo de Rivera Proclamation

From the Alfonso monarchy to the Second Republic

UNIT 4 – THE SECOND REPUBLIC The Constitution of 1931 and the reformist period The radical right wing period The elections of 1936 and the Popular Front

Negrin and the Second Republic. / The prelude to tragedy


Franco’s manifesto

Republicans and Nationalists

Allies and the Spanish Civil War.

The Axe and the Spanish Civil War.

History in Art.


Franco and Eisenhower

Juan Carlos’s role and the Spanish Royal Family The transformation of Spanish society

UNIT 7 - THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY Suárez: the man leading the change

The 1978 Constitution.

Tejero’s 1981 coup d’etat


Territorial organization of the State: the Autonomous Regions

Nationalist feelings

Catalonia independence process


The PSOE and Felipe González (1981-1996)

The People’s Party and José María Aznar (1996-2004)

The PSOE and Zapatero (2004-2011)

The PP and Rajoy

Liberal vs conservative parties and modern vs. traditional parties

Dealing with the crisis

Evolution of Spanish economy in contemporary history

Terrorism in Spain. From ETA to Al Qaeda


The basis for a union

Some key figures about Europe

EU activities and achievements

How the EU works. EU Institutions.

Impact of the crisis in the “European feeling”


What does Spain mean to the EU and what does the EU mean to Spain?

Relations with European countries

Relations with Non-European countries

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Suggested screenings:

Bienvenido Mr Marshall. Luis G. Berlanga (1953)

Land and Freedom. Ken Loach (1995)

Tejero’s coup (23-F: Radiografía del golpe”). Informe Semanal, TVE (2011)

Bibliography: Compiled by lecturer

Complementary bibliography:

Cowans, Jon. (2003). Contemporary Spanish History. Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press. Cortes, Maximiano. (2001). Guía de usos y costumbres de España. Madrid, Edelsa. Ross, Christopher J. (2004). Spain: 1814-2004. Modern History for Modern Languages. Hodder Education. Ross, Christopher J. (2002). Contemporary Spain. A handbook. New York, Arnold Publishers. Gies, David. (1999). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Spanish Culture. Cambridge University Press. Hooper, J. (2006). The New Spaniards. Penguin. Carr, T. (1980). Modern Spain: 1875-1980. Oxford University Press. Ministry of Presidence. Spain Today 2008. Ministry of Presidency. Ministry of Presidence. Spain Today 2009. Ministry of Presidency. EL PAÍS, English Edition. Madrid, Prisa.

Carr, Raymond (2000). Spain. A History. Oxford University Press.

Barton, Simon. (2004).A History of Spain. Palgrave Mcmillan.

Course Evaluation:

20% Tasks and attendance

40% Final exam

30% Projects

10% Subjective evaluation (students are expected to come prepared to class and profesor will value that students are showing a mark of improvement)

Spanish Grading Scale:

Matrícula de Honor 10 Sobresaliente 9 – 9,9 Notable 7 – 8,9 Aprobado 5 – 6,9

Suspenso 0 – 4,9 No Asistencia (Student has exceeded the allowed number of unexcused absences)

Please find as a reference the following grading scale conversion. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university or institution to determine the final grade equivalencies.

Matrícula de Honor = A+ Suspenso = F Sobresaliente = A No presentado = Incomplete (attended Notable = B classes but did not take final exam) Aprobado =C No Asistencia = Incomplete (enrolled in the course but did not attend class)

Appeal grades: The deadline for claiming notes is 30 days from the reception at the university certificate.

IMPORTANT: Due dates for exams and presentations are IMMOBILE except for FORCE MAJEURE and then subject to agreement between the student and the school administration for the program.


Homework and the final paper are included in this concept.

-Final paper (10%).

The teacher will give the students a list with all the possible topics for the final paper. The paper must be 4-5 pages long, typed and printed (Times New Roman pt.12, 1 and ½ spaces) and must include an alphabetical list of all of the sources used at the end.

Assignment policies:

All homework and the final paper are due at the beginning of class on the due date listed. Any assignment not turned in at that time is considered late.

Projects* (and tests):

-Midterm (20%).

-Class presentations (10%). 

Each student or group of students will do 8-10 min. presentation on the topic “History in Art”. The teacher will give more information in due time.

Exams: Midterm and Final test will include a variety of different kind of questions to develop, T/F questions, open questions, “filling the gaps” exercises, “complete the sentence”. The Midterm and the Final Exam will be cumulative.

English expression

The students should express themselves -both orally and in writing- in good formal English. Particularly in the written partials and quizzes, as well as the presentations, good academic writing is essential. Bad, sloppy academic writing (misspellings, deficient syntax, etc.) will be penalized.

Class Attendance: class attendance is obligatory, it is checked every class day and it is reflected in the course attendance sheet that is sent to the University.

An 85% of attendance is required for the successful completion of the course. Not missing any class will be considered positively.

If a student exceeds this limit, the grade in the transcript for this subject could appear as “not attended course”.

Special Accommodations: Students with special needs who require reasonable modifications, special assistance or accommodations in this course (either for properly following-up classes, to take exams, etc.) should direct their request to Academic Coordination during the first week of the course.

*Course content subject to change