Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Britain At War, 1939-1945
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 3 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word document analysis  10%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word supplementary (resit) document analysis  10%
Supplementary Exam 1 x 2 hour supplementary (resit) examination  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

Display an understanding of the social and political history of Britain during the Second World War and be able to reflect critically on the impact of 'total war' on Britain and the British people.

Comprehend and assess the different historical debates and analyses evident in related texts.

Read, analyse and assess a range of different types of historical evidence, including the evidence of various forms of propaganda.

Express understanding and discuss related issues through writing in an academic context.

Work independently and as part of a group and take an active part in group discussions.


Special Subjects provide third-year students with an opportunity to study a particular period in great depth and partly on the basis of primary sources. They are intensively taught, and particularly high standards of precision, creativity and knowledge are expected from students. Together with the dissertation and the general historical problems module, they provide final-year students with an opportunity to demonstrate the maturation of their historical and other skills and of their intellectual sensitivity. The range of special subjects reflects the range of teaching and research interests on the part of departmental staff. As in other core courses, a wide choice of periods and approaches is made available.

Brief description

Over the course of the module students will investigate some key themes in the history of wartime Britain: the British government's mobilisation of a nation into a state of 'total war'; the impact of the conflict on British wartime politics and society; the relationship between government propaganda, public opinion, and national morale; and the effects of the war on British social and political culture. Particular attention will be given in the seminars to the wartime attitudes, opinions and experiences of the British people themselves as expressed in contemporary source material.
The module begins by considering the government's preparedness for war in September 1939, the public's responses to the outbreak of war, and the first few months of the conflict. It goes on to assess the workings of wartime government, the impact of the Blitz, and the practical and popular success of such policies as evacuation, industrial conscription and rationing. It looks at support for, and opposition to, various aspects of the home front war effort, addresses the particular effects of the war on the lives of women, and considers the effectiveness of wartime propaganda efforts by both government and mass media. Lastly, it addresses the subject of post-war reconstruction and the remarkable outcome of the 1945 General Election.
As with all Special Subjects, particular emphasis will be placed on the historiography of the period, and on primary source material, close analysis of which will form a major par


1. Introduction
2. From 'Phoney War' to Dunkirk
3. The Blitz
4. The 'Factory Front'
5. The Home Front'
6. Women in wartime
7. The propaganda war (i): enemies and friends
8. The propaganda war (ii): broadcasting, film and wartime national identity
9. War and social change: social policy, Beveridge and 'reconstruction'
10. 'Leftward shift'? Wartime politics and the 1945 General Election

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Read a wide range of both primary and secondary texts; improve listening skills during the lectures, and consequently develop skills in note taking; demonstrate and develop the ability to communicate ideas in two essays; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars.
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs; devise and apply realistic learning and self management strategies; devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals and to develop personal awareness of how to improve on these.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to access information on CD-Roms and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course in progression; plan and prepare for future course / career.
Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.
Research skills Understand a range of research methods and plan and carry out research; produce academically appropriate pieces of written work.
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different sources from the modern period, including unpublished and published documents; develop the ability to use appropriate historical research tools effectively.
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamics; contribute to the setting of group goals; contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars); evaluate group activities and own contribution.


This module is at CQFW Level 6