Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Willingly to War? The Origins of the First World War (online) (PGHC11371)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the origins of the First World War. The focus is on the decision-making process within the various Great Powers and the interaction between long- and short-term factors.
Course description This course provides an introduction to the advanced study of a crucial period of international history. The course will focus on the period of the July Crisis of 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War. The course is structured around historically and historiographically significant themes. Each class session will address a particular theme or interpretative issue that has generated significant controversy in recent scholarship. In addition to analysing the motivations and reasoning of the key decision-makers, the aim of the course will be to focus on such issues as the impact of terrorism on a fragile international system, the role of 'risk' in the calculations of key actors, the relationship between long- and short-term planning, the impact of intelligence, the importance of historical precedent, the significance of inadvertency, error and misunderstanding, and the role played by armaments and military threat analysis. The course will examine the historiographical debates that have raged since the outbreak of the war itself, and employ archival and other documentary material to evaluate them on the basis of their evidential strengths and weaknesses.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in forum posts and the final essay a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning Europe international history in the years before 1914
  2. Demonstrate in forum posts and the final essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship, primary source materials concerning, and conceptual discussions about the origins of the First World War
  3. Demonstrate in forum posts and the final essay, an ability to understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in seminars and in written assessment by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  5. Demonstrate in seminar discussions, forum posts and written assessment originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
The following two works will be provided to the students, paid for from their fees:

James Joll & Gordon Martel, The Origins of the First World War (London, third edition, 2007)
Annika Mombauer, The Origins of the First World War: Diplomatic and Military Documents (Manchester, 2013)

Numerous ebooks will be available to students through the databases 'Cambridge Histories Online', 'Cambridge Books Online' & 'Oxford Scholarship Online'.

Anthony D'Agostino, 'The Revisionist Tradition in European Diplomatic History', Journal of the Historical Society, 4 (2004)
E.L. Evans & J.O. Baylen, 'History as propaganda: the German Foreign Office and the "Enlightenment" of American historians on the war guilt question', Canadian Journal of History, 10 (1975)
Niall Ferguson, 'Germany and the Origins of the First World War: New Perspectives', Historical Journal, 35 (1992)
Holger H. Herwig, 'Clio deceived: Patriotic Self-Censorship in Germany After the Great War', International Security, 12 (1987)
Talbot C. Imlay, 'The Origins of the First World War', Historical Journal, 49 (2006)
Konrad H. Jarausch, 'World Power or Tragic Fate: The Kriegsschuldfrage as Historical Neurosis', Central European History, 5 (1972)
Jerzy Marczewski, 'German Historiography and the Problem of Germany's Responsibility for World War I', Polish Western Affairs, 12 (1977)
Annika Mombauer, 'The First World War: Inevitable, Avoidable, Improbable or Desirable? Recent Interpretations on War Guilt and the War's Origins', German History, 25 (2007)
Adam R. Seipp, 'Beyond the "Seminal Catastrophe": Re-imagining the First World War', Journal of Contemporary History, 41 (2006)
Dennis Showalter, 'The Great War and Its Historiography', Historian, 68 (2006)
Leonard V. Smith, 'The "Culture De Guerre" and French Historiography of the Great War of 1914-1918', History Compass, 5 (2007)
Samuel R. Williamson, Jr., 'The Origins of World War I', Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18 (1988)
Samuel R. Williamson, Jr. & Ernest R. May, 'Review Article: An Identity of Opinion: Historians and July 1914', Journal of Modern History, 79 (2007)

Primary source material will be available via House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, FRUS, and, it is hoped, British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914. There are extensive collections of official documents available online.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsWillingly Origins First World War
Course organiserMr David Kaufman
Tel: (0131 6)51 3857
Course secretaryMs Lizzie Hunter
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information