The Spanish Civil War, 1936 - 1939 - HIST6085

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module studies the most important event in interwar European history, the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Beginning with three weeks dedicated to the background to this conflict (with particular emphasis on the advent of the Spanish Second Republic in 1931, this module combines chronological with thematic studies. It covers the army rebellion of July 1936 which unleashed civil war, the subsequent revolution and terror in the government zone of control, militarisation and terror in the rebel areas of control, the Battle of Madrid, the war and the armies, the war in the air, the war at sea, the nature and impact of foreign intervention, regionalism and centralisation, the Battles of Euzkadi, Teruel and the Ebro, and the final defeat of the Spanish government in 1939. In addition to an understanding of the 'bird's eye’ view of strategy and battles, students will also explore aspects of conscription, desertion, discipline, civil-military relations and morale. Students will also explore the ‘home fronts’ and the polarisation of politics associated with anarchism, socialism, communism, fascism, Carlism, monarchism and Catholicism. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of a conflict which continues to be of relevance nowadays.


Contact hours

a 1 hour lecture and a 2 hour seminar each week

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by 60% coursework and 40% exam.


Students will be expected to make regular contributions and to provide one formal seminar presentation worth 10% of the final mark.
Exam preparation commentary: Students will write a 1,000-word analysis of a primary source extract chosen from a list of six under their own timed conditions of one hour. This exam preparation will be worth 10% of the final mark.
Essays: Two essays of 2,500 words. At the end of each of the three main sections of the module students will produce a report or source analysis reflecting on the themes, approaches and materials of the section of 2000 words. Each of these essays will be worth 20% of the final mark.


Students will sit a two-hour exam to answer two questions out of a choice of several.

Indicative reading

Jorge Reverte, The Spanish Civil War; a Military History (Palgrave, 2015)
Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (London, 1986)
Julián Casanova, The Spanish Second Republic and Civil War, 1931-1939 (Cambridge, 2010)
Helen Graham, The Spanish Civil War; a very short introduction (Oxford, 2005)
Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust (London, 2012)
Mark Lawrence, The Spanish Civil Wars: a comparative history of the First Carlist War and the Conflict of the 1930s (London, 2017)
Ronald Fraser, Blood of Spain (London, 1990)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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