Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Second World War in Europe
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module by submission of 100% coursework in lieu of original assessment(s). ALL supplementary/resit components are outlined on the International Politics website -  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. Outline the essence of military strategies of the protagonists and the relation of these strategies to the political aims of the warring states.
2. Discuss the character of the war in European between 1939 and 1945.
3. Discuss the general interpretive approaches to the military history of the Second World War.
4. Discuss the nature of the military course of the Second World War and its impact on the international system.
5. Discuss the impact of technology upon the Second World War.
6. Discuss the utility, and accuracy, of the term `Total War' as a framework for analysis.
7. Assess the relationship between war on land and air and sea power in the Second World War.
8. Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the Second World War on civilian populations.
9. Assess the role and importance of political and military leadership in the Second World War.
10. Compare and contrast the predictions of inter-war military thinkers (e.g. Douhet, Liddell Hart) with the actual course of events after 1939.
11. Assess the military lessons of the Second World War.
12. Debate the continued significance of the Second World War.


This module will enable students of military history to make a rigorous examination of the course of the Second World War in Europe. It will also introduce students on other degree schemes not only to the history of the period but also to the evolution of war in the twentieth century with all its attendant impacts on all aspects of global society. The subject material will also provide students with a knowledge base with which to engage with Part Two modules on that cover the evolution of international society from a multi-polar `Great Power' arrangement to the Bi-polar Superpower Cold War system.

Brief description

This module will allow students to examine in depth the military history of the greatest conflagration in world history.


Lecture 1 - Germany triumphant
Lecture 2 - The Battle of France, the Battle of Britain
Lecture 3 ? Nazi Europe
Lecture 4 - 'The world will hold its breath': Operation Barbarossa
Lecture 5 - The 'soft underbelly'? North Africa and Italy, 1941-1944
Lecture 6 ? Deep War: Stalingrad and Kursk
Lecture 7 - Britain and America at War
Lecture 8 - Germany and German Occupied Europe, 1939-1944
Lecture 9 ? the USSR at War, 1941-1945
Lecture 10 - Resistance, partisan warfare and racial extermination
Lecture 12 ? The War at Sea
Lecture 11 - The Air War
Lecture 13 - Men and Machines: strategy, leadership and industrial war
Lecture 14 - To the heart of the Reich: invasion from the East; D-Day to the crossing of the Rhine
Lecture 15 - Endgame: the end of Nazi Germany and the new Europe

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number During the module students will be required to undertake some data collection, numerical analysis and interpretation of particular key concepts.
Communication Students will learn how to articulate their ideas verbally and also to convey them in a clear and well-structured way in written form. They will, in addition, learn how to assert themselves to advantage. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and teamwork will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Students will be expected to submit their work 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 of assistance from both the convener and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay. The need to contribute to seminar discussions and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
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 (such as Web of Science and OCLC). They will also be provided with a course website to facilitate the learning process and communication with the course convenor.
Personal Development and Career planning The module includes specific seminars on key study skills as well as sessions on Personal Development Plans. Discussions in seminars, in particular, will help to develop students' verbal skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of an essay will require that the students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare for seminars will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed in seminars by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken and that their understanding of key concepts is of a suitable standard to undertake honours level work.
Subject Specific Skills Students will learn the basics of using historical methodology in a military history context. This will entail chiefly developing the ability to use evidence in a sophisticated way to make an argument. They will also be expected to provide detailed and accurate references to their source. Students will also be required to make themselves familiar with the evolution of strategy and tactics in the Second World War.
Team work Teamwork will not be a central component of this module. But students will need to learn how to interact and communicate effectively in a group context during seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 6