Western civilization in the modern era, that is roughly from the 17th century until the Second World War, is main stream history. There is a lot to be said why other regions and other ages need to be discussed in history in order to understand the world - that goes without saying. However, the most recent history of the most dominant civilization in that history is indispensable for anyone who wants to get a grip on history today. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this general history is the subject of many podcast series. Here I want to concisely present to you the best university lecture series available.
For a long time, the only and indisputably the best series available was Berkeley's History 5. And this series came in flavors, semesters by different professors, each with their own style, emphasis and qualities for you to choose from. This course takes the history of western civilization from the renaissance until today and you can choose from the series by Thomas Laqueur, Margaret Lavinia Anderson and Carla Hesse. (Laqueur feed), (Anderson feed), (Hesse feed).
Very similar in content and style is UCLA's History 1C which starts in 1750 and also moves on until today. Professor Hunt is just as good as her Berkeley counterparts. (feed)
At UCSD, the era can be taken in the larger series MMW, the Making of the Modern World. What makes MMW decidedly different from others is that it is not exclusively looking at Western Civ. Nevertheless the course MMW 4 by professor Matthew Herbst, which goes from 1200 to 1750 is very good and you might want to take this one to get a head start with the others. I have yet to see MMW 5, but logically this goes on after 1750 and in spite of the added non-Western Civ, this is one to add, as soon as this becomes available. (feed for this semester - will be taken off line by the end of 2009)
A new lecture series comes from Yale by Professor Merriman European Civilization 1648 to 1945 and I am about to take that one on. The introduction is splendid and enhances the appetite. I am also happy this course starts before 1750. Although the Berkeley starting point 1453 (fall of Constantinople) definitely marks the beginning of modern history, the good thing of 1648 is that it is the peace of Westphalia and this results in a map of Western Europe that is very recognizable from today. (feed)
These are the general courses, but there are so many more. There are university podcasts that take on smaller spans of time or theme within this frame. And there are non-university, non-lecture podcasts that are very good.