The Great War: A Comparative History: Sources (HIH3410)

StaffDr Laura Rowe - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3411 The Great War (Context)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will promote reflective engagement with a variety of contemporary sources for studying the Great War as more than simply a series of military engagements. It aims to refocus the students’ minds on the contemporary character of the war by divorcing it from the popular idiom of the Great War as ‘futility and slaughter’. It will achieve this through an analysis of the operational aspects of the war, and of the experiences of the men on the fighting fronts as well as that of civilians using letters, diaries, memoirs, and interviews to gain an insight into the war. It will then show how the memory of the war has come to be formulated as it has by later generations.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Have a detailed knowledge of the different sources available for the study of the Great War in various theatres, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work.
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 5. Follow theories and evaluate critically the often complex reasoning of contemporary discourses.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 1. Undertake independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 2. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 3. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

Topics covered in the sources module will complement those in the context section. Using primary sources the module will examine the following topics: 
• The ‘face of battle’; 
• Casualty care; 
• Reintegration of servicemen into society; 
• Pressures of command; 
• Radicalism and unrest; 
• Mutiny; 
• Atrocity and brutality; 
• Strikes and civil unrest; 
• Daily life at war; 
• Artistic representations of the war; 
• Responses to occupation; 
• Military identities and service ethos; 
• Remembering the war

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course.1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written
Individual presentation 3020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period
Presentation Written transcript of 20 minute presentation.1-8

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Max Arthur, Lost Voices of the Royal Navy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005)
David Omissi, Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers' Letters, 1914-1918 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999)
Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939)
Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel (New York: Howard Fertig, 1975)
Daniel Horn (ed.), War, Mutiny and Revolution in the German Navy: The World War I Diary of Seaman Richard Stumpf (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1967)
Erik von Ludendorff, My War Memoirs 1914-1918 (London: Hutchinson, 1919)
Henri Barbusse, Under Fire (London: Dutton, 1926)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Project Façade (
The World War I Document Archive ( (
The Great War Archive: A Community Collection (
The First World War Poetry Digital Archive (
Other documents will be available on ELE

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Great War, transnational history, comparative history