HIS31840 The First World War: cultures and consequences

Academic Year 2023/2024

This course will explore the cultural impact and aftermath of the First World War. The First World War has been understood alternately as the birth of modernity, the beginning of the end of Empire, and the cause of the Great Depression, fascism, communist revolutions and the Second World War. In this course we will weigh the veracity of each of these claims, paying particular attention to the cultural impact of the war. Topics discussed will include trench warfare, new military technologies, war crimes, morale, mutiny, shellshock, victory and defeat, peacemaking, war art and literature, mourning and memorial making, and empire.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding the course, conduct and consequences of the First World War.
2. Assess the historiography of the cultural history of First World War.
3. Present aspects of the historical debate on the war orally and engage in discussion.
4. Write scholarly essays appropriate for a Level Three student of History.

Indicative Module Content:

The course is structured to the first six weeks students learn what happened in the First World War happened year by year. The lectures provide a narrative of what happened, and there is also a focus on a theme in the readings each each week. Week 1: 1914 – origins and outbreak. Week 2: 1915 – atrocities. Week 3: 1916 – industrial slaughter and soldier experience. Week 4: 1917 – mutiny and revolution. Week 5: 1918 – winners and losers. Week 6: 1919 – peacemaking and demobilisation. The second half of the course focuses on themes, as students will now have enough knowledge to analyse them critically. Week 7: war literature. Week 8: propaganda, culture, and mobilisation. Week 9: shell shock and trauma. Week 10: mourning, memory, and memorials. Week 11: Empire.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group, seminar-based module. It is taught through a one-hour weekly lecture and a two-hour seminar. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the week’s topic, focusing upon key historical trends, debates and events. The weekly seminar is focused upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student presentations. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through a combined individual student presentation, discussion board contributions, and a semester-long 4,000 word research project. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary sources and / or student presentations each week. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
HIS31700 - Origins of the First World War, HIS31790 - War guilt, 1914

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Class participation and presentation, discussion board posts, and annotated bibliography Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: 4,000 word research essay Coursework (End of 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, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the presentation performance and text is given in writing with the returned assignment. Written and oral feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis on preparatory plans and primary and secondary source bibliographies for end-of-semester Research Papers. Feedback on the end-of-semester Research Papers will be given by appointment in one-to- one meetings

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 09:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Wed 12:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Wed 12:00 - 12:50