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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Origins and Diplomacy of the Second World War, 1919-1945 (HIST10354)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) Credits40
Home subject areaHistory Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe Course begins with the peace settlement of 1919. It discusses the concept of an 'interwar crisis', including linkages between unresolved disputes between states, the growing conviction that the Great War had solved nothing, economic malaise and social unrest in Europe. Within this context it treats the attempts of French, German and British leaders during the 1920s to fashion an international order that would not result in another war. It examines Nazi views on foreign policy as a preliminary to the discussion of the Nazi regime's war preparations in the 1930s in rearmament and social and psychological preparation of the nation for war. The reaction of other states to the Third Reich are then considered, with a consideration of the British and French policy of appeasement. Attention then focuses on the international ambitions of Italian Fascism, the situation in the Far East, including the reasons why Japan was increasingly discontented, and the reasons why superpowers of the post-1945 world, the Soviet Union and the United States, were of only limited importance in the international constellation before 1939. Then follows an analysis of international relations between 1933 and 1941. In its later phase, the course concentrates on the international relations of a world at war, including the formation of the Grand Alliance of Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and the relations between Germany and her allies. It concludes with the war in the Far East, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan and the origins of the Cold War. The course emerges out of the course organiser's interests in the interwar period and preparation for a book on the subject.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
Students who take this course will be able to demonstrate through written coursework, examination and participation in class discussions:
1. An understanding of the origins and diplomacy of the Second World War. The course involves study of a subject of wide geographical scope. The historical truth about the origins of the Second World War and, to a lesser extent, about international relations while it was taking place have been much (and sometimes bitterly) contested. Discussion of disputes about 'functionalism' and 'intentionalism' in relation to the origins of the Second World War will contribute to an understanding of developments whose consequenes will contine to be felt for the forseeable future and whose direct effects are present not only in much of the political landscape of the contemporary world, but in many technological advances, in such institutions as the United Nations and the Internatioal Monetary Fund, and in much literature and film. Though to an extent Eurocentric, the course afforts understandig of the abrupt end of Europe's long imperial, economic and cultural predominance in the world. The rise of the United States, if made possible by its continental extent and economic growth, was decisively the result of events between 1939 and 1945. The human and moral impact of the war continues to reverberate. The purpose of the course is to continue dispelling mythology about the origins of the features of the present-day world.
2. A better understanding of comparative historical method
3. A familiarity with a selection of relevant contemporary sources
4. A capacity to evaluate conflicting historical interpretations
Assessment Information
Students will complete two essays of 3,000 words (one per semester) and sit two two-hour Degree Examination. The final mark will be composed of the essay mark, weighted at 35% (in total) of the final mark, and the exam mark weighted at 50% of the final mark and an oral mark weighted at 15%. The oral grade will be composed of 5% for informal oral contributions during seminars and 10% for formal oral contributions.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Semester 1:

1. Introduction and Course Map
2. The Peace Settlements of 1919-23
3. The Major Powers, 1920-1933
4. The 'Interwar Crisis'
5. Hitler and German Foreign Policy Before 1933
6. The Functioning of the Nazi State, 1933-1939
7. Great Britain and the policy of Appeasement
8. France and 'Decline'
9. Interwar Central and Eastern Europe
10. The Italian Challenge to the International System
11. International Relations, 1933-37

Semester 2:

12. German Expansion in 1938
13. 1939: The Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Outbreak of War
14. The United States and Asia to 1940
15. Barbarossa and the Invasion of the Soviet Union
16. From European War to World War
17. The Formation of the Grand Alliance, 1941-42
18. Allied Wartime Diplomacy, 1943-44
19. Germany and her Allies
20. Endgame in Europe in 1945: Yalta and Potsdam
21. From the End of the War in Asia to the Outbreak of the Cold War, 1945-47
22. Conclusion

Transferable skills Students will acquire an enhanced capacity to:
1. Grapple with complexity and construct an academic argument.
2. Integrate diverse material and to reason comparatively across cases
3. Improved presentational skills through seminar presentions and essay-writing
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsOrigins Second WW
Course organiserMr David Kaufman
Tel: (0131 6)51 3857
Course secretaryMrs Caroline Cullen
Tel: (0131 6)50 3781
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