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Europe in the Age of Total War 1914-45

Second Year Module

Module Leader: Dr Edward Packard

Should we examine the period 1914-1945 as an ongoing great civil war between competing ideologies, rather than as a period of two world wars separated by an uneasy peace? Building upon first year teaching and learning connected to European politics, society and historiography, this module seeks to develop understanding and awareness of key concepts and events in modern European history. It will introduce students to primary source materials related to the key actors and events under investigation and will encourage students to adopt a comparative approach to assessing the nature and impact of total war, ideology and revolution, through which competing historiographical interpretations will be evaluated. Europe in the Age of Total War will provide students with a foundation for some of the theory and content addressed in later modules specifically the Cold War at Level 5 and The History of Genocide and Suffolk at War at Level 6.

Students will study three climactic decades of modern European history through a series of comparative and thematic case studies, including the First World War, the Paris Peace Conference and the League of Nations, Bolshevik Russia and the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Western Democracies, the Spanish Civil War, Appeasement, and the Second World War. Students will not only study the period between 1914 and 1945 in the context of war and peace between European states, but will also explore the simultaneous battle between competing ideologies and how this latter conflict transcended national boundaries and acted as a powerful catalyst for international and domestic change. Students will explore concepts and debates including the nature of total war, the challenges to liberalism, revolution and reform, leadership and charisma, and the role of domestic policy in determining foreign policy (and vice versa).


Learning and Teaching Strategies:

This module will be delivered through weekly lectures andseminars plus tutorial support. Where appropriate supporting resources will also be made available online. Seminar sessions will be designed to encourage student participation and will support students in strengthening their skills of presentation, discussion, argument and debate, and in evaluating, interpreting and using secondary and primary sources.






Weighting %


Submission date

Europe in the Age of Total War



2,500 words

Week 6



2,500 words

End of semester


Recommended introductory reading:

N.B. Advice on recommended book purchases for this module will be given to students at the start of term.

V.R.Berghahn, Europe in the Era of the Two World Wars: From Militarism and Genocide to Civil Society, 1900-1950, (Princeton NJ, 2006).

M.Kitchen, Europe between the Wars,(Harlow, 2006).

M.Mazower, Dark Continent, Europe's Twentieth Century, (London, 1998).

R.Vinen, A History in Fragments: Europe in the Twentieth Century, (London, 2002).


Further Reading:

N.B. A full reading list is included in a module handbook which will be provided in the first week of teaching.

M.Alpert, A New International History of the Spanish Civil War,(Basingstoke, 2004).

P.M.H.Bell, The Origins of the Second World War in Europe, (Harlow, 1997)., (Harlow, 1997).

R.Boyce and Joseph A. Maiolo (eds.), The Origins of World War Two: The Debate Continues,(Basingstoke, 2003).

E.Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991,(London, 1994).

M.Housden, The League of Nations and the Organization of Peace, (Harlow, 2011).

J.Joll, Europe Since 1870: An International History, (London, 1990).

I.Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, (London, 2000).

I.Kershaw and M.Lewin (eds.), Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison, (Cambridge, 1997).

C.S.Maier, Recasting Bourgeois Europe: Stabilization in France, Germany, and Italy in the decade after World War I, (Princeton NJ, 1975).

M.Mazower, Hitlers Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe, (London, 2008).

P.Preston, 'The Great Civil War 1914-1945', in T.C.W.Blanning (ed.), The Oxford History of Modern Europe, (Oxford, 2000), pp.148-181.

T.Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, (Washington DC, 2012).

Z.Steiner, The Lights that Failed: European International History 1919-1933, (Oxford, 2007).

Z.Steiner, The Triumph of the Dark: European International History 1933-1939, (Oxford, 2011).

H.Strachan, The First World War: A New Illustrated History, (London, 2006).

J.W.Taliaferro, Norrin M. Ripsman and Steven E. Lobell (eds.), The Challenge of Grand Strategy: The Great Powers and the Broken Balance between the World Wars, (Cambridge, 2012).