Morale, Discipline and Combat Motivation (HISM176)

StaffDr Laura Rowe - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF LevelM
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The course will explore the history of theories of military morale, discipline & combat motivation from Clausewitz to the present day. It will look at all three services – navy, army and air force -- and at a range of different countries and conflicts. It will consider the differences between the maintenance of discipline and morale in times of war and peace and will contextualise these issues within the broader societal framework. It will look at the work of both historians and practitioners.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate and understanding of the key themes and issues in the history of military morale, discipline and combat motivation
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical and theoretical debates in the various subject areas studied
  • 3. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically
  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to evluate different disciplinary perspectives on the history of military morale, discipline and combat motivation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Analyse and synthesise different types of historical material and evidence
  • 6. Identify and understand the nature of original sources
  • 7. Critically understand key historical concepts and debates
  • 8. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Demonstrate capacity for independent critical study and thought
  • 10. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of online searching aids)
  • 11. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials
  • 12. Work as an individual and with tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task)
  • 13. Analyse, summarise and organise material to produce a coherent and cogent argument, within specific deadlines.

Syllabus plan

This course will include the following topics:
1.) Clausewitz and the formation of ‘morale’
2.) Citizen’s armies
3.) Professional forces
4.) The development of primary group & legitimate demand theory
5.) Morale in times of peace
6.) The link between morale and discipline
7.) Military morale and civilian influences
8.) Theories of battle fatigue and PTSD
9.) The reintegration of service personnel into civil society
10.) ‘Writing 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
SLT222 hour seminars: This module is taught through weekly two-hour seminars on a set theme. Students will be required to undertake preparatory reading of primary and secondary materials. Group and/or individual presentations will serve as the basis for discussion guided by the module tutor(s). Essays will be assigned, discussed and returned in individual tutorials.
GIS278Independent study

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
Essay 1373000 words
Essay 2383000 words

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Jonathan Fennell, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign (Cambridge: CUP, 2011)

Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918 (Cambridge: CUP, 2008)

G.D. Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches: Officer-man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (MacMillan, 2000)

John Keegan, Face Of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme (Jonathan Cape, 1976)

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