Special Subject: The European Experience of the First World War (V1403)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn and spring teaching

The First World War was a pivotal event in 20th century history, which, on the eve of its centenary, provokes intense public interest and academic inquiry. This 'Special Subject' module is inspired by the vibrant cultural history in the field of First World War studies and takes a thematic approach in order to examine the European experience of the conflict in a comparative and transnational manner. Within the context of the larger political and military framework the module will explore the physical and emotional dimension of the war experience of both soldiers and civilians across Europe.

Weekly themes will include:

  • the myth and reality of war enthusiasm
  • combat and killing in industrial war
  • fear and trauma in the trenches
  • religious faith and rituals in war
  • mass death and bereavement
  • artistic responses to the conflict
  • motherhood and marriage in war
  • notions of courage and heroism
  • labour and forced labour
  • the dynamics of violence
  • atrocities, rape and genocide
  • and also the controversial issue of the memory of the war across Europe.

This module offers a fresh and challenging analysis of the conflict with a particluar emphasis on the human experience of war between 1914 and 1918.


100%: Seminar


60%: Coursework (Essay)
40%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 48 hours of contact time and 252 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2018/19. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: