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HST5321 - Winning on the Western Front: the British Army 1914 -1919

The legacy of the British army’s battles during the First World War.

Module code: HST5321

Credits: 15

Britain's military effort on the Western Front in the First World War was unprecedented and unrepeated. In 1917 and 1918, for the first and only time, British forces took the principal role in fighting the main force of a great power on land.

The legacy of the titanic effort this required has remained in British culture until the present day. Only recently has academic scholarship caught up with the tidal wave of poetry, memoirs and novels in helping us to understand events on the Western Front.

How did the British army prepare for and fight the battles of 1914-18? How did it react to the strategic, operational and tactical challenges of the Western Front? How did soldiers - professional, part-time, volunteer and conscript - experience life in and out of the front line? What did the Western Front mean for Britain, and how should it be understood in retrospect?  

This module takes a chronological approach to the military history of the Front, using an analysis of individual campaigns and battles as a route into understanding the war in thematic terms.

You will use of a range of contemporary sources, including diaries, literary texts, films and official documents, and learn how the history of war can provide a conceptual and skill base for the study of the past more generally.

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