Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Warfare After Waterloo: Military History 1815 - 1918
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 5 x 2 Hour Seminars
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour)  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   (1 X 2 hour exam)  60%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Critically assess the legacies of Napoleonic warfare for a range of European countries and their armed forces
2. Assess the crucial developments in warfare in the modern period
3. Discuss the challenges encountered by European forces in operating in non-European contexts in the age of imperialism
4. Describe and analyze the key factors, agents historical trends and structural dynamics that influenced the changing shape, doctrines and fighting styles of various European and non-European armed forces in the period under consideration
5. Evaluate critically the roles of naval and land forces and their structure and recruitment in relation to differing national politico-strategic cultures and ways of war
6. Assess the debates on the nature and evolution of 'Total War' in the modern, and more especially, the late modern periods.

Brief description

This module allows students to examine the legacies of the warfare from the Napoleonic Wars to 1918. This will allow students to reflect upon the structures, recruitment and strategic thought of European armed forces, and to identify and illustrate trends in these areas and in technological changes impacting on armed forces, in and outside Europe, down to and during the First World War.


I. War in Europe, 1618-1792
II. Napoleon: A genius for war
III. Legacies of Napoleon
IV. The Concert of Europe, Limited War and the Crimean War
V. The American Civil War 1861-65 (I)
VI. The American Civil War 1861-65 (II)
VII. The Wars of German Unification, 1864-71
VIII. 'An Army with a State': Prussia, 1640-1945
IX. European Interventions in Africa & Colonial 'Small Wars'
X. The South African War, 1899-1902
XI. From 'wooden walls' to Dreadnoughts: developments at sea, 1815-1914
XII. The influence of sea power upon history: Mahan and Corbett et al.
XIII. The Revolution in Armaments, 1879-1914
XIV. The Origins of the First World War: Arms Races, Alliances and Crises
XV. Opening Moves in the Great War, August 1914
XVI. The Great War at Sea: Jutland 1916, and the menace of the 1917 U-Boat offensive
XVII. France's War: 'Aux armes, citoyens'
XVIII. The breaking of the armies: Entente Exhaustion, 1917
XIX. The Kaiserschlacht and the collapse of Imperial Germany, 1918
XX. The dawn of Total War?

SEMINAR ONE (Legacies of Napoleonic warfare)
a) Command, operational systems, tactics
b) Strategic Thought – Clausewitz (I): war as politics; 'Absolute War vs. Real War'; the 'Paradoxical Trinity'
c) Strategic thought – Clausewitz (II): Friction and its consequences; Attack vs. Defence; the People in Arms
d) Logistics and Intelligence: why have they been the Cinderellas of military organisations … and in the study of military history?

SEMINAR TWO (Mid-19th C. Warfare)
a) Organising for War: general staffs, conscription and fortifications
b) The industrialisation of war: telegraphs, steamships, railways, rifles
c) The Crimea (1854-6) and Wars of German Unification
d) The American Civil War, 1861-5

SEMINAR THREE (Between sport and slaughter: armies and navies in 'Britannia's heyday', 1871-1914)
a) European Armies and the ‘Native Encounter’ (Case Study: The Zulu War of 1878-79)
b) The Leverage of Sea Power and the emergence of maritime strategic thought (Mahan & Corbett)
c) Things to Come? The Second Boer War (1899-1902) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-5)
d) Clash of Arms: The Battle of the Frontiers, Aug-Sept. 1914

SEMINAR FOUR (Towards Total War: The Western Front, 1914-18)
a) 'Trenchlock' and modern siege warfare: the supply/transport/sustaining the offensive conundrum
b) Élan vital vs. Stoßtruppen? French & German approaches to winning on the Western Front
c) 'Who's in charge here?' Command, control and communications before portable radios and mobile phones
d) Battle tactics and the Allied ascent of the 'learning curve': Arras, Messines and Ypres, April-November 1917

SEMINAR FIVE (Towards Total War: 'Sideshows' and Sea Warfare)
a) 'Forgotten' Allied victory: the Western Front, July-Nov. 1918
b) The attractions of the Indirect Approach: Was Gallipoli a good idea badly executed, or a poor idea in the first place?
c) Why did the British public and RN officers feel so disappointed by the outcome of the Battle of Jutland (1916)?
d) How serious a threat to Britain was the 1917 German U-Boat offensive, and why?


The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to study military developments, and historiographical debates about them, relating to warfare, the recruitment and organization of armed forces, the development of strategy and the impact of technological changes on armed forces and the conduct of operations, from 1815 to 1918.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: i. Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module ii. Evaluate competing perspectives iii. Demonstrate subject specific research techniques iv. Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work


This module is at CQFW Level 6