HUWISU | Summer on Campus
Subject Course

An Iron Kingdom? History and Legacy of the Prussian Expansion [S2]

How does Prussia embed into the history of both Germany and Europe? There is a lot to know about Prussia's continuous rise from the lens of its geopolitics, geography, economics, military, religion, science and culture.

Course Period
July 15, 2024 – Aug. 9, 2024 Session II
Social Sciences, Politics & History
Course Levels
Class Size

max. 18 participants 

Credits and Certificate

Participants will receive 6 ECTS credit points and a certificate if they attend regularly (at least 80% attendance), participate actively and fulfil all course assignments. Additionally, six weeks after the end of the course a Transcript of Records is issued by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. All courses are accredited according to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Application Deadline
May 15, 2024, or when participant quota is reached
Course Fee

Set in the shadow of the reconstructed Prussian City Palace, this course will give an overview of the history, the legacy and the memory of the “Iron Kingdom”. It will embed Prussia into the history of both Germany and Europe more broadly – explaining the continuous rise of this entity by looking at its geopolitics, as well as its geography, economy, military, religion, science and culture.


We will follow the development of Prussia from a small duchy beyond the Eastern periphery of the Holy Roman Empire to one of the most powerful kingdoms at the center of Europe. Much of European history since the Thirty Years’ War can indeed be understood as a function of this “Prussian Expansion”, a fateful development that upended the traditional balance of power and ultimately led to the creation of a monster at the heart of Europe: Imperial Germany, hell-bent on acquiring the great power status it thought it deserved. But there is another, less tragic story that can also be told about Prussia: One of enlightened culture, of world-renowned education and universities, of state modernization and democratic rights that resonates until today. Between Königsberg, Potsdam and Berlin a particular worldview took shape that was both distinctly Prussian, German and cosmopolitan. Humboldt University was the center of this “Berlin Classicism”, but we will look for this legacy (and how it is remembered) in other parts of the Prussian capitals as well.

Course structure
  • You will receive a total of 45 hours (one lesson equals 45 minutes; 11 hours per week)
  • Lessons are held three times a week.
  • Lessons will comprise lectures, group work, discussion sessions, excursions

The courses are grouped into different time tracks.
Your course will take place in Track C.

Tuesday: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm & 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm
Wednesday: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm & 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm
Friday: 9.00 am – 10.30 am & 11.00 am – 11.45 am

Cultural activities
You are welcome to join our cultural program with an excellent selection of excursions, sports activities, and social gatherings. It is the perfect setting for getting to know each other and for experiencing the varous facets of Berlin. There are no additional costs for participation in the activities.

Activities and tours we offer regularly: Federal Chancellery, German Parliament, House of Representatives, Topography of Terror, Political Archive, Museum Island, Kreuzberg Tour, Daytrip to Potsdam, Exhibitions…

Language Skills
English B2
Motivation Letter
About one page in English
Student Profile

Undergraduate students of all subjects with an interest in German history and culture.

Dr. Christian E. Rieck

Christian E. Rieck is an Associate Professor at the Chair of War Studies at the University of Potsdam. He also teaches at the interface between international relations and contemporary history at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, as well as at Humboldt, his alma mater.

He is a frequent guest lecturer at universities around the world, most recently at the University of Belgrade, the University of Costa Rica and RSIS in Singapore. After studies in Bayreuth, Seville and at HU Berlin, he earned a postgraduate degree in Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford.

Previous posts include stints at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Berlin, the German Institute for Global and Area Studies GIGA in Hamburg, as well as a Carlo Schmid Fellowship at the United Nations in Mexico City.

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