Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: History


Type Open Level 3 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap 15 Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO level two modules in History.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Develop subject specific knowledge regarding the use of propaganda in Britain and Germany during the Second World War, examining the relationship between the media and conflict in a historical context, analysing the methods, reception and the use of propaganda and persuasion in a comparative context.
  • allow students to critically analyse the complex relationship between the state, the media and the arts in Britain and Germany from 1939-1945, developing a deep understanding of the use of propaganda and persuasion in authoritarian and democratic governments.
  • give students the opportunity to work with different forms of historical evidence, in an environment designed to foster a critical awareness of varied primary source materials.
  • reflect upon the department's aims relating to study at level III.


  • After the Great War 1914-1918, militarists and political leaders came to recognise the importance of propaganda in conflict.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the war, politicians and psychologists drew comparisons between the propaganda efforts of the British and German governments, and attempted to assess the impact of persuasion on the eventual outcome of the war.
  • Beaverbrook's efforts in information management clearly outmatched German propaganda on both the front lines and at home, recognised by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.
  • Although the significance of this work did not become apparent until 1933, by the late 1920s, the NSDAP already placed considerable emphasis on the inclusion of a propaganda policy in the organisation and later in government, whereas with the release of the 1927 Ponsonby report, in Britain, the term had become pejorative in nature.
  • The widening gap between Britain and Germany was exposed in 1939, when the two former enemies were once again at war.
  • This course seeks to analyse the complex relationship between war, propaganda and the state in a comparative context, using primary source materials to trace British and German policy towards public persuasion both at home and abroad.
  • Seminars will focus on the administration, execution and reception of propaganda and judge the success of psychological operations and their impact on the eventual outcome in 1945.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • students will have a subject specific knowledge relating to the theories, methods and use of propaganda and persuasion in Britain and Germany during the Second World War.
  • experienced handling primary source materials and analysing their context and significance with reference to current debates in the field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/;
  • In addition students will be able to marshal an argument in written form, drawing on an appreciation of propaganda as an historical source.
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/History/ugrads/ModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of:
  • seminars to allow students to present and critically reflect upon the acquired subject-specific knowledge, methodologies and theories, and to identify and debate a range of issues and differing opinions. The seminar is the forum in which students are given the opportunity to communicate ideas, jointly exploring themes and arguments. Seminars are structured to develop understanding and designed to maximise student participation related to prior independent preparation. Seminars give students the opportunity to develop oral communication skills, encourage critical and tolerant approaches to reasoned argument and historical discussion, build the students' ability to marshal historical evidence, and facilitate the development of the ability to summarise historical arguments, think in a rapidly changing environment and communicate in a persuasive and articulate manner, whilst recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals;
  • tutorials either individually or in groups to discuss topics arising from prepared work, allowing students the opportunity to reflect upon their personal learning with the tutor.
  • Assessment:
  • Unseen Examinations test students' ability to work under pressure under timed conditions, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The unseen examination gives students the opportunity to develop relevant life skills such as the ability to produce coherent, reasoned and supported arguments under pressure. Students will be examined on subject specific knowledge;
  • Summative essays remain a central component of assessment in history, due to the integrative high-order skills they develop. Essays allow students the opportunity to recognise, represent and critically reflect upon ideas, concepts and problems; students can demonstrate awareness of, and the ability to use and evaluate, a diverse range of resources and identify, represent and debate a range of subject-specific issues and opinions. Through the essay, students can synthesise information, adopt critical appraisals and develop reasoned argument based on individual research; they should be able to communicate ideas in writing, with clarity and coherence; and to show the ability to integrate and critically assess material from a wide range of sources;
  • Assessment of Primary Source Handling Students are assessed on their understanding of original primary sources, usually in print, their character varying according to the nature of the subject, and the students' ability to bring that knowledge to bear on 'cutting edge'research-based monographs and articles. Students are given the opportunity to discuss and articulate an understanding of changing interpretations and approaches to historical problems, drawing evidence from a body of primary source materials. Students are required to demonstrate skills associated with the evaluation of a variety of primary source materials, using documentary analysis for a critical assessment of existing historical interpretations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 2 Termly in Terms 1 & 2 30 mins 1
Seminars 19 Weekly in Terms 1 & 2 3 hours 57
Revision Sessions 1 Revision 2 hours 2
Preparation and Reading 540
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 Max 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Essay 2 Max 3000 words, not including scholarly apparatus 50%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen examination (essay paper) 2 hours 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 35%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen examination (gobbet paper) 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative essay of not more than 2500 words (not including footnotes and bibliography), submitted in Term 1. This will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Coursework essays are formative as well as summative. They are to be submitted in two copies, of which one will be returned with written comments and a standard departmental feedback sheet. Preparation to participate in seminars and tutorials. At least one oral presentation in each term, and at least two practice gobbets in each term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University