Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Second World War in Europe
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Outline the essence of military strategies of the protagonists and the relation of these strategies to the political aims of the warring states.

Identify and discuss the general interpretive approaches to the military history of the Second World War.

Discuss the nature of the military course of the Second World War and its impact on the international system.

Outline different accounts of the utility and accuracy of the term 'Total War' as a framework for analysis.

Compare and contrast the predictions of inter-war military thinkers (e.g. Douhet, Liddell Hart) with the actual course of events after 1939.

Identify and discuss some of the key military lessons of the Second World War.

Brief description

This module examines in depth the course of the Second World War in Europe. It will introduce students to the history of the period and to the evolution of war in the twentieth century with all its attendant impacts on all aspects of global society.


The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Topics covered during these sessions include:

• The road to war: Europe 1900-39
• The destruction of Poland
• The Winter War/ The Phoney War/ Denmark and Norway
• The German attack in the West, May 1940
• The German failure to subjugate Britain
• The widening war: North Africa and the Balkans, 1940-1
• The limits of Blitzkrieg? From Barbarossa to the gates of Moscow
• North Africa, 1941-1943
• The cauldron: Stalingrad
• The mother of all battles: Kursk
• The Battle of the Atlantic
• The air war over Europe
• Germany and German Occupied Europe, 1939-1944
• Italy, 1943-1945
• Russia at war, 1941-1945
• The Red Army and the destruction of the German army, 1943-1945
• From D-Day to the crossing of the Rhine, March 1945
• The conquest of Berlin and the end of Nazi Germany

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas verbally and in writing, and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will develop skills in using the many sources of information available 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 written assessments 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 supported self-learning within a context in which support and assistance is available from the module convenor, the department and university and from their fellow students. 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 answer the assessed essay question.
Information Technology Students will enhance their proficiency using Blackboard, where materials to support learning will be made available. Students will also develop skills in searching for, and assessing the validity of, online information sources as part of preparation for lectures, seminars, and film views and Q&As. Assessed work will be presented in electronic format, according to university and institute/departmental guidelines
Personal Development and Career planning The 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 requires students to write 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 project 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 need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable students to develop independent project 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; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills These are developed throughout and students will be encouraged to locate research and information outside of that provided in the module handbook.
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 within the module. These subject specific skills include: • How to collect and analyse a wide range of data relating to the module • Evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques • Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical, political, social, and military, questions.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For almost all of the topics covered in 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 5