Module Identifier IP33720  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
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 Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours. (8 x 1 hour)  
  Lecture   12 Hours. (12 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 look at the origins of this war. It will 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. It will also 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 overall aim of this module is therefore to examine the relationship between the transformation of the international system after 1870 and the coming of the First World War in 1914.


1. Introduction: the First World War and the twentieth century
2. The European states system and the rise of nationalism
3. The wars of German unification and the evolution of the Bismarckian alliance system, 1871-1890
4. The international economy and Great Power rivalry
5. Globalization: great power rivalry in Africa and the Far East
6. European politics and the rise of anarchism and international socialism
7. The end of the Bismarckian system, 1890-1904
8. The making of the Ententes and the polarisation of European politics, 1904-1911
9. Balkan Wars and Great Power standoffs
10. The `July Crisis' and the `mood of 1914'
11. Decisions for war I: Berlin and Vienna
12. Decisions for War II: St. Petersburg and Paris
13. Decisions for war III: London
14. Historians and historiography II

1. Nationalism and international socialism in Europe
2. Globalization, the international system and the `new imperialism'
3. The radicalisation of European Politics I: Domestic politics and war
4. The radicalisation of European Politics II: great power diplomacy and the coming of war
5. Armaments and strategic planning
6. The Fritz Fischer controversy
7. The Mood of 1914


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.

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

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


This module is at CQFW Level 6