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Europe on the Brink: The Origins of the First World War

Level 1 (CQFW Level 4), 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

This course is currently not being offered in the academic year 2015 - 2016.

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After a century of debate the ‘Great War’ still provokes powerful responses among historians, politicians and the general public. Unresolved questions surround the military, industrial and political mobilisation of Europe in the years before 1914. How do we explain this ‘watershed’ in modern European history? Offering a detailed look at the causes of the First World War, this module re-examines the events that led to a conflict that killed millions, bled economies dry and shook empires and societies to their foundations. In so doing, it will introduce new historical perspectives, diplomatic, social and economic, and show the range of evidence available to historians.

Course schedule

1) European Balance of Power, 1900

2) Britain and Splendid Isolation

3) Germany and Weltpolitik

4) Anglo-German Antagonism

5) Entente Cordiale

6) The Dual Alliance

7) Russia and the Balkans Wars

8) War Plans

9) The Slide to War

10) Thinking about the First World War

Who is this course for?

Suitable for those with no previous knowledge of the subject, the module is organised around issues designed to explain Europe’s march to war.

Learning and Teaching

Learning and teaching are undertaken by means of small group work. This is a 10-credit course, so there will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include group discussion, exercises, source analysis and presentation of material on video and/or DVD. The aim is ensure that the classes are enjoyable and stimulating for all. This will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding of the topics and ideas discussed in the course.

Coursework and Assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will not have a formal examination but you will be asked to produce some written work (1500 words). This may include a source analysis and short essay, or a more extended essay.

Reading suggestions

Essential Texts

Recommended Reading

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on

(029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.