War and the Twentieth-Century World: Experiences, Representations, and Legacies

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
10 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA R000 European Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA R001 European Studies,
BA R002 European Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA R008 European Studies (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R1 European Studies with French,
BA R9R8 European Studies with French (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R2 European Studies with German,
BA R9R6 European Studies with German (Including Foundation Year),
BA R9R3 European Studies with Italian,
BA R9R7 European Studies with Italian (Including Foundation Year),
BA V140 Modern History,
BA V144 Modern History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V148 Modern History (Including Placement Year),
BA V149 Modern History (Including Year Abroad),
BA L903 Global Studies,
BA L904 Global Studies (including year abroad),
BA L905 Global Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L908 Global Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Module description

This module explores experiences, representations, and legacies of the two world wars and the cold war in multiple contexts.

Lectures will examine themes such as citizenship, trauma, and memory across these conflicts, while seminars focus on specific case studies from across the globe.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To help students to understand:

    • Arguments about war and social change.

    • Concepts including ‘total war’, ‘experience’, ‘representation’, and ‘memory’.

    • The shaping role of war in twentieth-century global history;.

    • Diverse experiences of war, including the influence of gender, “race”, and class.

    • How to synthesise secondary scholarship on the social and cultural history of war.

    • How to build understanding of aspects of different conflicts into coherent arguments on the effects of war on individuals and society.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Students will have awareness of the importance of the world wars and the cold war in shaping twentieth-century global history.

  2. Students will be able to demonstrate critical understanding of secondary scholarship on the social and cultural history of war.

  3. Students will be able to synthesise secondary scholarship on different aspects of war.

  4. Students will be able to formulate independent arguments on the effects of war on individuals and society across the twentieth century.

  5. Students will be able to better present their findings orally in seminar discussions, and in writing as part of their assessment.

Module information

The seismic upheaval of two world wars shaped twentieth-century society, culture, and politics across much of the globe. While the world wars raged, states directed the resources of all their citizens towards achieving victory, meaning that a range of actors beyond combatants were directly touched by conflict.

In turn, those affected by war sought new relationships with nation-state, empire, and each other as they tried to come to terms with its legacies. The world wars therefore also inspired new visions of political and social life, generated subsequent conflicts and battles for independence, and caused the redrawing of borders in Europe and beyond.

The aim is to understand not only how these wars affected different groups and individuals, but to trace the legacies of these conflicts in multiple arenas, and shed new light on how they continue to affect the world today. In emphasising society and culture, and the relationship between the local and the global, War and the Twentieth-Century World challenges conventional views of twentieth-century warfare and introduces students to diverse voices and perspectives.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 50-minute lecture per week.

  • One 50-minute seminary per week.

Lectures will provide an overview of themes as they relate to one or more conflicts in diverse geographical settings. This will help students to place their independent reading in broader perspective.

Seminars will discuss more limited case studies, sometimes with a comparative element. This will help students to negotiate between microhistory and panoptic studies. Lectures and seminars therefore complement each other and ensure that students are exposed to diverse perspectives.

All Module information will be available via Moodle. Key readings will be digitised an available on Talis Aspire.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative Secondary Source Analysis (500 words)    0% 
Coursework   Historiographical Essay (1000 words)    35% 
Coursework   Thematic Essay (2000 words)    65% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Lucy Noakes, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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