Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Farewell to Arms? War in Modern European History (1815-2015)

Farewell to Arms? War in Modern European History (1815-2015)

**This module is not available in 2022/23**

This module will explore the interaction of war and society in Europe from 1815 to the present.

This residential module will take place in Brussels and use the history of wars and conflicts to introduce students to key themes and issues in modern European history. It will consider how war, its conduct and experience, shaped states and societies in Europe. It will also investigate how the transformations of warfare reflected the evolutions of European societies since the late eighteenth century.

Who is this module open to?

Co-curricular (0 CATS): Open to all degree level students at Warwick.

Credit bearing:

Open to all intermediate level (second year) students at Warwick, with a priority given to History students.

  • HIG28-15 - Intermediate, for 15 CATS credit in current year

Key dates

This module is not available in 2022/23.


Students would be required to fund their travel to, and living expenses (accommodation and subsistence) in Brussels for this module.

Warwick students may be eligible to apply for Turing funding if residing for at least 28 nights in Brussels.


This is a residential module and will be taught in Brussels, Belgium.

What's special about our modules?

This programme will challenge your thinking, develop your confidence and open up a world of new opportunities. You’ll consider new ideas, apply theory to real world issues working in teams and individually, and develop new networks, connections and friendships. This will provide you strong analytical and research methods skills which also enhance your employability profile for a globalised world of work, derived from a transformative blend of online learning and intercultural engagement.

Access to Intercultural Training and Undergraduate Research schemes will provide further enhancement of your skills.

The intensive nature of our programme lets you focus purely on your chosen modules.

You should expect one to two weeks of daily face-to-face sessions (on campus or online as appropriate and possible) and one to two weeks of online activities. The aim is to work in groups consisting of incoming students (usually including Monash students) and Warwick students during the module. Assessments will consist of a mix of group and individual activities.

There are no additional programme fees for Warwick students to take our modules.

Where will you be taught?

Our intensive modules are taught in various ways: either blended (combing online learning and face-to-face teaching) or fully online. Blended modules will be based at Warwick central campus, or our overseas residentials will be based at selected European locations relevant to module content (Covid-19 permitting). Our modules are designed to be taught in an intensive way, combining physical teaching, where possible, and online activities. We have the flexibility to move wholly online if it's needed too.

Whichever teaching structure transpires, all participants will be expected to attend all lectures and group work activities in real time, be it in person or online; this might include some activities in the prep week (where listed in Key dates). As modules are intensive there is not expected to be free time during the teaching period for you to undertake other activities.

Dr Pierre Purseigle

Dr Purseigle is an associate professor of history with a specialism in the history of the first world war.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

This residential module will use the history of wars and conflicts to introduce students to key themes and issues in modern European history. It will consider how war, its conduct and experience, shaped states and societies in Europe. It will also investigate how the transformations of warfare reflected the evolutions of European societies since the late eighteenth century.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • To gain a broad understanding of the role of war and military conflicts in modern European history
  • To be able to identify a range of related conceptual approaches and historiographical debates, including why scholars have now moved from military history to the history of warfare
  • To be able to identify and engage with a range of relevant primary sources
  • To gain interpersonal and communication skills through the delivery of a presentation

Indicative reading list

  • T. C. W. Blanning (ed.), Europe, 1789-1914. The Nineteenth Century (Oxford ; New York, 2000).
  • Manfred Boemeke, Roger Chickering, and Stig Förster (eds.), Anticipating Total War: The German and American Experiences, 1871-1914 (Washington, D.C.; Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, 1999)
  • Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison (eds.), The Economics of World War I (Cambridge, 2009)
  • Roger Chickering and Stig Förster (eds.), Great War, Total War. Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918 (Cambridge - New York, 2000)
  • Roger Chickering and Stig Förster (eds.), The Shadows of Total War: Europe, East Asia, and the United States, 1919-1939 (Cambridge, UK - New York, 2003)
  • Roger Chickering, Stig Förster, and Bernd Greiner (eds.), A World at Total War: Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction, 1937-1945 (Washington D.C. - Cambridge, 2005)
  • Roger Chickering, Dennis E Showalter, and Hans J Van de Ven (eds.), The Cambridge History of War. Volume 4, War and the Modern World (Cambridge, 2012)
  • Mary Fulbrook (ed.), Europe since 1945 (Oxford ; New York, 2001)
  • Helen Graham, The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford ; New York, 2005)
  • Mark Harrison (ed.), The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison (Cambridge, 1998)
  • Eric J. Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century. 1914-1991 (London, 1994)
  • John Horne (ed.), A Companion to the First World War (Oxford, 2010)
  • Michael Howard, War in European History (Oxford, 2001)
  • Julian Jackson (ed.), Europe, 1900-1945 (Oxford [England] ; New York, 2002)
  • Edward H. Judge and John W. Langdon, The Cold War: A Global History with Documents (Boston, 2011)
  • Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York, 2005)
  • John Keegan, The Face of Battle. A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme (London, 1996)
  • John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe. From the French Revolution to the Present, 2 vols. (New York - London, 2004)
  • James J. Sheehan, Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?: The Transformation of Modern Europe (Boston, 2009)
  • Odd Arne Westad (ed.), Reviewing the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, and Theory (London ; Portland, OR, 2000)

Research element

Students will be invited to consider museum collection and urban heritage as sources for the history of modern warfare.


Students will be invited to engaged with concepts and debates elaborated by political scientists and defence studies specialists. The module is designed to provide the students with an understanding of relationships between the different disciplinary areas within the Humanities and Social Sciences, particularly History, Politics and Sociology. It also invites to the students to make connections with other disciplinary areas covered in their main study programme. It provides the students with a critical understanding of dominant traditions and methodologies associated with the main phenomena covered in the module and enables the students to transcend disciplinary boundaries. The interdisciplinary course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience.


The residential module in Brussels will be delivered in a cosmopolitan city and with the support of both non-UK and transnational institutions. Students will engage with comparative and transnational methodologies and will do so in an intercultural context.

The module draws on cases from different contexts and different geopolitical areas. The assessment involves students working in groups which will allow for a global and local outlook to be built into the module’s work. The international and diverse course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience.

Transferable skills

  • Work effectively with others in group tasks and in teams
  • Plan and manage time in projects
  • Develop strong analytical skills
  • Find, evaluate and use previous research at a level appropriate for an intermediate year module
  • Use a range of tools and resources effectively in the preparation of course work
  • Use appropriate analytic methods to analyse research data
  • Read academic papers effectively in the context of an intensive programme
  • Communicate clearly and effectively in discussions
  • Communicate ideas effectively in writing.

Study time

Type Required Optional
1 session of 2 hours (1%) 1 session of 2 hours
Seminars 4 sessions of 2 hours (5%) 4 sessions of 2 hours
Practical classes 2 sessions of 2 hours (3%) 2 sessions of 2 hours
External visits 3 sessions of 3 hours (6%) 3 sessions of 3 hours
Private study

120 hours (80%)

  • History modules require students to undertake extensive independent research and reading to prepare for seminars and assessments. As a rough guide, students will be expected to read and prepare to comment on three substantial texts (articles or book chapters) for each seminar taking approximately 3 hours. Each assessment requires independent research, reading around 6-10 texts and writing and presenting the outcomes of this preparation in an essay, review, presentation or other related task.
Assessment 7 hours (5%)  
Total 150 hours  


You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

  Weighting Study time
Group Presentation 1 30% 2 hours

Analysis of a primary source

Group Presentation 2 30% 2 hours

Critical exploration of a historiographical debate

Group Presentation 3


2 hours

Students will debate a topic adopting the perspective of historical participants

Seminar Contribution


1 hour

Feedback on assessment
  • Feedback will provided in writing
  • Further oral feedback and clarification will be provided upon request.

Before you apply

You can take a maximum of two WIISP modules, and cannot take them at the same time.

    Please note

    • You will need to check with your department before applying to take a WIISP module
    • You are expected to fully engage and participate in the module, including in any group activities, if not your registration will be cancelled
    • Module details provided on these pages are supplementary to module details in the module catalogueLink opens in a new window. Subsequently individual module pages (moodle/my.wbs) will provide live details
    • All modules require minimum numbers to run. This is set by each module leader.

    How to apply

    If you want to make an enquiry before applying, please contact Sam Brook at Sam dot L dot Brook at warwick dot ac dot uk

    Apply online now