Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Second World War in History and Popular Memory
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2-hour seminars
Workload Breakdown 20 hours seminars 2 hours tutorials 178 hours independent study and essay preparation 200 hours total


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of relevant themes and approaches in the history and historiography of the Second World War, in particular the relationship between historical events on the one hand and their subsequent representation and remembrance on the other.

Evaluate differing ways of understanding the relationship between the past and its cultural representation.

Marshal and understand the use of appropriate evidence in formulating historical arguments regarding the history and memory of the Second World War.

Demonstrate through written work an ability to integrate methodological themes into their own research.

Brief description

Academic rationale of the proposal:

The module will address how the Second World War has been understood and remembered both inside and outside the historical academy from its outbreak to the present day. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the historical and methodological challenges involved when studying a period in which both events and their interpretation have been matters of significant contestation both among historians and the wider public, and in which popular memory itself becomes of major historical significance. They will also be introduced to key primary and secondary sources for advanced study
in this field.

Brief Description:

This module addresses the ways in which the Second World War has been understood and remembered both within the historical academy and in popular memory and culture. Focussing in the first instance on the British example (though other case studies may be included if additional staff are available), it considers key themes in the history of the war, including the ‘Guilty Men’ thesis, the so-called ‘myth of the Blitz’; home front morale and national unity; and the role of Winston Churchill; and explores both their historical treatment and their popular legacy through the postwar period. Specific attention is paid to the role of the mass media in consolidating the popular memory of the war, and to historicizing popular understandings of the war through the whole period from the end of the war to the present day.

(Indicative content, designed to accommodate a wider range of national case studies where additional staff expertise is available):

1. Introduction: war, history and memory
2. From peace to war: appeasement and the ‘Guilty Men’
3. The ‘Myth of the Blitz’
4. ‘Finest hours’? Life on the home front.
5. Opposition, resistance, and enemies within
6. Good and bad Germans
7. The ‘Churchill myth’
8. National identities and the Second World War
9. ‘The Good War’?: the Second World War in popular culture since 1945
10. The Second World War and popular memory: overview and conclusions

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through understanding of statistical and other numerical data as it relates to the topics under review
Communication Through seminar discussion and essay writing. Latter only is formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance By guided reflection during seminars and feedback sessions following submission of written work. seminar work.
Information Technology Through data retrieval exercises for research purposes and word-processing for essay writing purposes.
Personal Development and Career planning Through furthering understanding of single and interdisciplinary approaches to the social and cultural history of the period, and the opportunity this offers for research and history related careers.
Problem solving By understanding how historians seeking to explore the social and cultural impact of the second world war employ a variety of different methodological approaches towards understanding problems within their field.
Research skills By learning how to identify appropriate primary and secondary sources and utilising that material in their work.
Subject Specific Skills By enhancing methodological understanding of 20th century social and cultural history, in particular with respect to questions of history, memory and popular culture, and an awareness of key texts and approaches.
Team work Through seminar work.


This module is at CQFW Level 7