The Great War 1914-1918

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor David Stevenson, Sardinia House 3.11


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

May be taken by 3rd years where regulations permit.

Course content

The international and comparative history of the First World War. The military, diplomatic, political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the conflict will all receive attention. The origins and outbreak of the war; the military campaigning on the Western, Eastern, Italian, and extra-European Fronts; the war at sea and in the air; the intervention of neutral powers, war aims and attempts to negotiate peace; domestic politics in the belligerents; the war's economic and social effects; the experience of combat; the Russian Revolution and the road to the Armistice; the impact of the war on the international system and on individual and collective consciousness.


Lectures will be pre-recorded and accessible online. The School aims to run in-person classes, subject to circumstances, with some online provision if and where necessary. There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to write three essays of 2500 words: two in the MT and one in the LT.

Indicative reading

C. Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2013); N. Ferguson, The Pity of War (1998); A. Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I (2014) ); A. Millett & W. Murray (Eds), Military Effectiveness, Volume I. The First World War (1988); H. Strachan (ed), The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War (1998); H. Strachan, The First World War: Vol. I. To Arms (2005); D. Stevenson, 1914-1918: The History of the First World War (2004); A. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (2007); R. Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-18 (1998); J. Winter (ed), The Cambridge History of the First World War (3 vols, 2014).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2020/21: 11

Average class size 2020/21: 11

Capped 2020/21: Yes (11)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills