HIST239-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

The First World War: Total War in Europe

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The First World War is often described as a total war. Between 1914 and 1918 over 9 million combatants were killed and European nations deliberately targeted civilians for attack. Governments gave themselves extraordinary powers over people’s lives as they tried to turn whole societies, economies and cultures to the war effort. The results of this ranged from social and political reform to revolution, genocide and the collapse of empires. Students will explore the war’s impacts on the people of Europe, investigating its origins; military, political and social developments; and the legacies of both peace diplomacy and war cultures. Focusing primarily on Britain, France and Germany, this course asks how the experience and endurance of total war affected Europe, and what this meant for the modern world.

(Image: "Cheshire Regiment trench Somme 1916", licensed under [public domain.)

Learning Outcomes

  • By the time you have completed the course, you will be expected to demonstrate:

  • A broad knowledge of the military, political, social and diplomatic history of the First World War in Europe.
  • A broad knowledge of the main historiographical debates in the field.
  • An ability to formulate cogent interpretations of the most important historical developments relating to the First World War.
  • An ability to answer broader questions about the role of the First World War in shaping European politics, society, culture and international relations.
  • An ability to compare and contrast different events, experiences, societies and cultures.
  • An ability to find and use appropriate scholarly research materials.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level in HIST or CLAS120, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


HIST301, HIST302, HIST305, HIST339

Timetable Note

Please note that all lectures for this course are recorded via the Echo system and are available to view online within a day of the live performance. Flexibility is thus available in case of a timetable clash for lectures.

Course Coordinator

David Monger


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Essay 1 25%
Essay 2 25%
Tutorial participation 10%
Final exam 40%

Please check the course Learn page for further details and updates.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All HIST239 Occurrences

  • HIST239-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023