DSCY10050 War: Ancient and modern

Academic Year 2023/2024

Wars and armed conflicts remain a subject of great topicality. From the Middle East to Africa conflicts of different sizes and levels of intensity continue, while in Eastern Europe, the possibility of war remains a permanent threat.
War has shaped much of the past and present but it has changed its character over time. This module will introduce students to the changing character of war from ancient times to the present, highlighting the latest research results on a large variety of conflicts and themes: wars, piracy and civil wars in the ancient world, the Viking conquests in Europe, the Crusades, the Wars of Religion, the Napoleonic Wars of the 19th century, the total wars of the 20th century and the current crisis in the Middle East. The module combines insights from history, classics, politics, medicine and sociology. Together, faculty from these diverse disciplines will introduce some of the latest research on the topic, including aspects of violence and gender, medical responses to the outbreaks of war and the new wars on terror in today s Middle East.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students:
1. will be able to critique texts on war drawing on the methods used by historians, sociologists, and political scientists, among others;
2. understand the major historical changes in the nature and context of war since the earliest times of human history;
3. will appreciate a variety of analytic techniques used by researchers investigating human conflict;
4. will have improved their academic writing skills.

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture 1: Introduction

Lecture 2: Warfare in Ancient Greece: From Citizen Soldiers to Hellenistic

Lecture 3: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

Lecture 4: War in the Medieval World

Lecture 5: The Wars of Religion and the Military Revolution

Lecture 6: Napoleonic Warfare: Change and Continuities

Lecture 7: ‘Savage Warfare’: The Colonial Context of Counterinsurgency

Lecture 8: From Cabinet War to Total War, 1870-1945

Lecture 9: What Makes a Civil War?

Lecture 10: Why Soldiers Fight: Cohesion and Combat Motivation since the
Second World War

There will be a reading week in each semester.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will learn through a combination of lectures, group discussions, and the completion of dedicated assignments such as research essays. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: 2,000 word research essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: See Handbook for details. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat Within Two Trimesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback is offered by email or in person throughout the semester and after the research essay.

Name Role
Dr Martin Brady Lecturer / Co-Lecturer