Armies at War, 1792-1815 - HIST6064

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 5 30 (15) Mark Lawrence checkmark-circle


This module examines the European experience of war during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The lectures will consider the major national armies (French, Prussian, Austrian, Russian, British and Spanish) and how they were expanded and reformed in the wake of the French Revolution. Seminars will consider key themes, such as the nature of the officer corps, recruitment and conscription, the nature of 'People's War’, interactions between soldiers and civilians, developments in tactics, logistics and discipline and morale. The approach taken, will largely be that of ‘war and society’, focusing on the social history of the armies but there will also be some consideration of operational history and cultural history approaches to this topic. While this approach moves significantly away from ‘old military history’ with its focus on generals and battles, there will be some consideration of Napoleon’s methods of warfare and how these were successfully countered by his enemies.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Level 5
Essay 1 2,500 words 18%
Essay 2 2,500 words 18%
Exam Preparation Essay 1,000 words 12%
Presentation 10 minutes 12%
Exam 2 hours 40%

Reassessment methods:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

BERTAUD, J. (1989) The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen-Soldiers to Instrument of Power. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
BLANNING, T. C. W. (1996) The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802. London: Hodder.
BLAUFARD, R. (2002) The French Army, 1750-1820. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
COOKSON, J. E. (1997) The British Armed Nation, 1793-1815. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ESDAILE, C. J. (1988) The Spanish army in the Peninsular War. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
FORREST, A. (2001) Conscripts and Deserters. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FORREST, A. (1989) The Soldiers of the French Revolution. Durham: Duke University Press.
KEEP, J. (1985) Soldiers of the Tsar: Army and Society in Russia, 1462-1874. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
LINCH, K. (2011) Britain and Wellington's army. London: Palgrave Schol.
PARET, P. (1966) Yorck and the era of Prussian military reform, 1807-1815. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
SCHNEID, F. C. (2015) European Armies of the French Revolution 1789-1802. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
STOKER, D. and SCHNEID, F. C. (eds.) (2014), Conscription in the Napoleonic Era. London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the Level 5 module students will be able to:

1 Analyse the concept of the 'Nation in Arms' as it developed in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution.
2 Analyse the nature of conscription as it was applied throughout most of continental Europe, 1792-1815.
3 Demonstrate a knowledge and critical understanding of the nature of warfare, 1792-1815 and its place within the concept of 'total war'.
4 Analyse the 'Napoleonic way in warfare' and its implications with regard to logistics, strategy, tactics and the nature of armies.
5 Analyse the extent to which the enemies of Napoleon were ultimately victorious against him by restructuring their armies on the French model.
6 Demonstrate a knowledge and critical understanding of the basis of guerrilla warfare, as it developed in the Iberian Peninsula, 1808-13.
7 Critically engage in key historiographical debates, applying the concepts and principles of historical study to the relevant context.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the Level 5 module students will be able to:

1 Effectively communicate information and arguments orally and in writing, skills which can be transferred to other areas of study and employment.
2 Critically engage in key debates, applying the concepts and principles of study to the relevant context.
3 Make effective use of relevant sources.


  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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