Armies at War 1914-1918 - HIST5092

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 5 30 (15) Mario Draper checkmark-circle


This module will offer a comparative study of the armies of the Great Powers during the First World War. The module will adopt the 'war and society' approach to this topic and so will focus on the social composition and combat effectiveness of the armies concerned, along with civil-military relations and the higher strategic direction of the war. This module will therefore seek to answer some of the key questions of the Great War: how did the Great Powers manage to raise and sustain such large armies, why did soldiers continue to fight, given the appalling casualty rates; how politicised were the armies of the Great War, why were politicians allowed to embark on foolhardy military adventures, how crucial were the Americans in securing Entente victory and how effectively were economies adapted to meet the demands of the armies? Comparative topics for discussion in seminars will include: planning for war, recruitment and conscription, the officer corps, generals and politicians, discipline and morale; and attitudes to technological advances.


Contact hours

Private Study: 370
Contact Hours: 30
Total: 300


Autumn or Spring

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay 1 (2500 words) 30%
Essay 2 (2500 words) 30%
Thematic Timed Essay (1000 words) 20%
Class Presentation/Participation 20%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

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The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Engage critically with the historiography and history of the combatant armies (principally British, French, Russian, German, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and U.S.A.) in the Great War.
2 Develop their critical and analytical skills, through a comparison of a wide range of armed forces, political systems and operational theatres.
3 Demonstrate a familiarity with the history and historiography of various armies in a comparative framework.

The intended generic learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1 Develop a critical understanding of different historical approaches and degrees of bias as well as of the methodological complexities in the historical record itself.
2 Further develop analytical and reflective skills and the ability to express complex ideas and arguments, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
3 Further develop communication, presentation and information technology skills.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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