Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module HIST31G1: Occupied Europe, 1938 - 1947

Department: History

HIST31G1: Occupied Europe, 1938 - 1947

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 50 Location Durham


  • A pass mark in at least TWO Level two modules in History


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • HIST20W1


  • 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:
  • Challenging students’ assumptions about the past and reflecting on the nature of the discipline (and, where appropriate, interdisciplinarity) at an advanced level
  • Appreciating how historical knowledge is produced, what forms it takes, and the purposes it serves
  • Reflecting on students’ own historical consciousness and practice.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ sophisticated reading skills to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, material, aural, visual, audio-visual etc.)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology.

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

  • and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module.
  • Student learning is facilitated by a combination of the following teaching methods:
  • Lectures to set the foundations for further study and to 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 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.
  • Assessment:
  • 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 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. In addition, seen Examinations (with pre-released paper) are intended to enable Level 3 students to produce more considered and reflective work;
  • 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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly in Terms 1, 2 & 3 21
Seminars 7 4 in Term 1; 3 in Term 2 7
Preparation & Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay - not including bibliography and footnotes 3,000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 Hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Written assignment(s) of 1,000 - 2,000 words.

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