The Thirty Years War (1618-1648): A Military, Social and Cultural History

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
10 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The Thirty Years War (1618-48) was the longest and most destructive of all early modern conflicts. It was rooted in complicated religious and dynastic conflicts that drew in the rulers of most of the nascent states of early modern Europe, although it was played out mainly in the territories of early modern Germany. In this module we will assess the impact of the War in three key areas:

  • Military history (key debates about military enterprise, the 'military revolution', etc).

  • Social history (the ways in which the War was experienced by individual soldiers and civilians and the broader socio-economic impact of the War on Germany).

  • Cultural history (how soldiers and the War were represented in contemporary imagery and print culture; the legacy of the War in post-1648 literature and culture).

In addition to exploring key debates in the secondary literature, we will look at primary sources (all of which will be available in English). These will include eye-witness accounts of battles and sieges, images of the impact of soldiers on civilians, political propaganda, and post-1648 novels and plays.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To familiarise students with the narrative history of the 30YW and enable them to engage with the three key areas of military, cultural and social history.

  • To introduce students to some of the primary sources for exploring the military, social and cultural history of the 30YW.

  • To familiarise students with some of the key debates in the secondary literature of the 30YW and its impact.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Situate the key events and players of the 30YW within its broader narrative context.

  2. Evaluate primary sources relating to the War with confidence.

  3. Analyse critically the relevant secondary literature pertaining to the key themes.

Module information

For introductory reading, see: Richard Bonney, The Thirty Years War 1618-1648 (Osprey Essential Histories, Oxford 2002). Stephen J. Lee, The Thirty Years War (Routledge, 1991).

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 1-hour lecture each week.
  • One 1-hour seminar each week.

The lecture will provide essential context for the seminar topic. Students are expected to complete the essential readings for the seminars and to be ready to discuss the readings in seminars.

All module materials will be provided on Moodle and TALIS.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (3000 words)    95% 
Practical   Seminar Participation    5% 

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 Alison Rowlands, email:
Professor Alison Rowlands
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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

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