Module Identifier IP33720  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Peter D Jackson  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Lecture   12 Hours (12 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 2,500 words  40%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

- identify and discuss the key historiographical debates concerning the origins of the First World War
- discuss the key features of the European states system and how they evolved during the period in question with particular reference to the `German problem? and the ''Russian problem''
- discuss the politics of disarmament and armament and their role in relations between states before 1914
- analyse the impact of colonialism on the international system
- evaluate the role of international socialism in international relations during the period in question
- identify historiographical debates about the alleged ''mood of 1914'' and its role in the coming of war in 1914

Brief description

The international system was forever transformed by the First World War. This module will focus on the various interpretations of the origins of this war that have emerged since 1918. It will also pay careful attention to transformations in the international system that took place afer the unification of Germany in 1870.


The aim of this module is to examine the relationship between the transformation of the international system after 1870 and the coming of the First World War in 1914.


The module will begin by introducing students to the various conceptual approaches that have been taken by historians seeking to understand international relations between 1870 and 1914. It will then examine the impact on European politics of the unification of Germany, the emergence of international socialism, the 'new imperialism' (and its attendant 'globalising' effects), as well as the rise of Imperial Russia and the United States. Further lectures and seminars will consider the strategic, imperial and foreign policies of the Great Powers and place these policies within the wider context of the shifts in the global balance of power after 1870. The final portion of the course will pay specific attention to official and popular moods and perceptions in Europe on the eve of the First World War. It will consider how various historians have tried to incorporate the 'mood of 1914' into their interpretations of the origins of the 'Great War'.

Transferable skills

Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the module, students should practice and develop their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self-management. In lectures students develop listening and note-taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students enhance their analytical skills and practice listening, explaining and debating skills. Students are expected to provide an analysis of one reading over the course of the module. This exercise provides students with an opportunity to refine presentational skills and gain confidence in speaking in front of their peers. Essay writing encourages students to practice independent research, writing and IT skills, and the examination tests these under time constraint conditions

10 ECTS Credits

Reading Lists

Preliminary Readings
** Recommended Text
James Joll (1992) The Origins of the First World War 2nd. London, Longman

H Herwig (1997) The Outbreak of World War I Houghton Mifflen, New York


This module is at CQFW Level 6