Armies at War 1914-1918 - HIST5092

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 5 30 (15) Timothy Bowman 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

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 2500 words 12%
Essay 2 2500 words 12%
Exam Prep Essay 800 words 8%
Class Presentation/Participation Mark 8%
Examination 2 hours 60%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading LIst:

Stephane Audoin-Rouzeau, Men at War 1914-1918: National Sentiment and Trench Journalism in France during the First World War (1995)
Ian. F. W. Beckett and Keith Simpson (eds.), A Nation in Arms: A social study of the British Army in the First World War (1985)
Hugh Cecil and P. H. Liddle (eds.), Facing Armageddon: The First World War experienced (1996)
Anthony Clayton, Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-1918 (2003)
E. M. Coffman, The war to end all wars: The American Military experience in World War I (1986)
Istvan Deak, Beyond Nationalism: A social and political history of the Habsburg oficer corps 1848-1918 (1990)
J. G. Fuller, Troop Morale and Popular Culture in the British and Dominion Armies 1914-1918 (1990)
Elizabeth Greenhalgh, Victory through coalition: Britain and France during the First World War (2008)
Keith Grieves, The politics of manpower, 1914-18 (1988)
John Horne (ed.), State, society and mobilization in Europe during the First World War (1997)
R. L. Nelson, German soldier newspapers of the First World War (2011)
G. E. Rothenberg, The Army of Francis Joseph (1998)
Martin Samuels, Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918 (2003)
Peter Simkins, Kitchener's Army: The Raising of the New Armies, 1914-16 (1988).
Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War: Combat, morale and collapse in the German and British armies, 1914-1918 (2008)
John Whittam, The politics of the Italian Army (1977)
A. K. Wildman, The end of the Russian Imperial Army: The Old Army and the Soldiers’ Revolt (1980)

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 To introduce students to 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 To encourage students to develop their critical and analytical skills, through a comparison of a wide range of armed forces, political systems and operational theatres.
3 To introduce students to 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 To 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 To further develop analytical and reflective skills and the ability to express complex ideas and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
3 To 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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