MA in British Second World War Studies at the Centre for War Studies, University of Birmingham

The Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham offers the only postgraduate degree in the UK dedicated to the study of the operational military history of the Second World War. It is a part-time taught MA run through Saturday day school with a new intake starting in September 2013. The course is convened by Dr Jonathan Boff, a member of the research group. Here are details of the course.

Overview

This programme provides an opportunity to study this immense conflict mainly through the British experience, although it also compares this with that of allies and enemies alike. It focuses on the challenges posed by the war to state, army, society and the man and woman in the street, and on the evolving ways in which these challenges were met – or not met.

Details

The Second World War is a huge topic: no course can hope to cover every aspect. This programme concentrates on the British experience, although it draws comparisons with both allies and enemies where appropriate and helpful. It focuses on the challenges posed by the war to state, army, society and the man and woman in the street, and on the evolving ways in which these challenges were met – or not met.

To gain a Masters degree you will need to complete 180 credits. You will study six core modules, each worth 20 credits and assessed by an essay of not more than 4,000 words. You will also complete a supervised 15,000-word dissertation, worth 60 credits.

Modules

You will study six core modules:

Research Skills: Methodology and Sources

This module introduces you to the historiography of the Second World War and to a variety of different research methodologies and research sources. A series of case studies will focus on key research sources (published and unpublished) for the British experience of the Second World War, including: the Official History; the diaries, memoirs, letters and autobiographies of contemporary actors; archival sources, especially the National Archives of the United Kingdom: Public Record Office.

The Higher Direction of the War

The module looks at the determinants of British strategy during the Second World War, paying particular attention to historical, political, economic and diplomatic factors. It compares the British war economy with that of allies and enemies alike. It also covers the evolution of British strategy under the discipline of events and the conditions and difficulties of coalition warfare.

The Development of Operational Art in British Forces

This module will analyse the methods adopted by Britain’s military forces to plan and execute battles and how these methods changed over time. Particular attention will be given to the evolution of C3I (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence), combined operations, the use of air power, all-arms operations and doctrine.

Technology, Tactics and the Secret War

The module will analyse the impact of science and technology on the conduct of the war, the evolution of tactics in the land war and the secret war of propaganda, espionage (human and electronic) and resistance.

The Experience of War

The module will examine the individual’s experience of the war at sea, on land and in the air, both in the services and on the Home Front. It will also look at the impact of the war in terms of bereavement and remembrance and also at how it has been represented in art and popular culture.

Research Skills: Dissertation Preparation

The module introduces you to the techniques necessary for the location of literature and sources relevant to your dissertation research. You will become familiar with the relevant bibliographical aids for the location of secondary and primary sources, and will be introduced to a range of libraries, archives and data sources

You can find out more about this course here.

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