Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST20W1: Occupied Europe, 1938-1947

Department: History

HIST20W1: Occupied Europe, 1938-1947

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least ONE level one module in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to introduce students to the impacts of Nazi occupation on European states, local and regional powers, and civilians;
  • to explore the diversity of lived experience in Europe during the years of occupation;
  • to familiarise students with key debates in the historiography of Nazi occupation;
  • to develop students’ abilities to analyse primary sources from occupied countries.


  • During the course of the Second World War, almost all of continental Europe fell under German control. It was subsequently occupied by Allied forces. What was life like in occupied Europe? How did leaders and ordinary citizens cope with occupation and its ensuing hardships? In this module, we will interrogate concepts such as ‘collaboration’ and ‘resistance’ in an effort to understand why people made the choices they did in often tense and terrible situations. The module will explore the enormous impact of occupation on communities across the continent, examining the nature and repercussions of collaboration, resistance and reprisals, deportation, mass murder, and post-occupation retaliation and rebuilding.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module, students should be able to:
  • Compare and contrast diverse experiences of life in Nazi-occupied Europe, particularly with regards to the differences between Eastern and Western Europe;
  • Assess the impact of total war and occupation on states, local powers and civilians;
  • Analyse key debates in the historiography of wartime occupation, and understand the multiple meanings and dimensions of terms such as ‘ collaboration’, ‘resistance’ and 'genocide'.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      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 the following teaching methods:
      • Lectures: Lectures will set the foundations for further study and provide the basis for the acquisition of subject specific knowledge. Lectures provide a broad framework which defines individual module content, introducing students to themes, debates and interpretations. In this environment, students are given the opportunity to develop skills in listening, selective note-taking and reflection.
      • Seminars: Seminars will 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 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, all while recognising the value of working with others and, occasionally, towards shared goals.
      • Assessment:
      • Exam: Examinations test students’ ability to work under pressure, to prepare for examinations and direct their own programme of revision and learning, and develop key time management skills. The 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.
      • Essay/Assignment: Summative coursework will test students’ ability to communicate ideas in writing, present clear and cogent arguments succinctly and show appropriate critical skills as relevant to the particular module.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 17 17 in term 2 1 hour 17
      Seminars 7 7 in term 2 1 hour 7
      Preparation and Reading 176
      Total 200

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 40%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay or equivalent assignment (e.g. source commentaries) 2000 words excluding footnotes and bibliography 100%
      Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Seen Open Book Exam 2 hours 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Formative work done in preparation for and during seminars, including oral and written work as appropriate to the module. The summative coursework will have a formative element by allowing students to develop ideas and arguments for the examination.

      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