• Class Number 6614
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
    • Dr Nicholas Brown
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

World War Two was the greatest conflict in history. An estimated 60 million men, women and children died in a war that engulfed the globe and shaped the world in which we live. It was the defining event in the history of the twentieth century. This comparative, transnational survey will focus on the political, social and cultural aspects of this conflict, and working with diverse historical materials and perspectives. It will deal with the war in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, addressing topics including: German and Japanese war aims; Blitzkrieg in Poland and France; propaganda, civilian mobilisation and total war; allied leadership, co-operation and division; civilians under occupation (collaboration and resistance) and the experience of prisoners of war; racial policies and genocide; wartime intelligence and espionage; the debates over mass bombing and recourse to atomic weapons; and concepts of post-war reconstruction and the emergence of new international institutions. We will survey the contexts and legacies of the war, and evaluate its enduring historical significance.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. understand the history of the Second World War, its origins, its course and its outcomes;
  2. understand the major controversies and moral debates surrounding the Second World War;
  3. understand the different models of interpretation that have been used to explain key aspects of the Second World War;
  4. critically analyse primary and secondary sources, identify bias and possible omission, and assess the relevance of information to the particular topic under discussion, using the basic skills of historical inquiry and historical analysis; and
  5. apply evidence and theory, formulate arguments and express their views in both oral and written form.

Research-Led Teaching

The first assessment project and research essay for this course require students to work critically and creatively with primary sources, and to reflect on the distinctive contexts and characteristics of those sources. In tutorials students will be encouraged to reflect on research materials, questions and methods. Lectures, including specialist guest lectures, will draw on the active research expertise of academics and reflect on current historiographical issues and debates.

Field Trips

An optional, non-assessable tour of the Australian War Memorial is scheduled in Week Two (COVID restrictions permitting).

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

The exam will be a take-home open book exam in which students will have access to the materials they have worked with throughout the semester.

Required Resources


There is no set text for this course. Evan Mawdsley's World War II: A New History (Cambridge, 2009) is recommended as a valuable overview of themes and events relevant to the coverage of the course.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • with the return of assessment
  • in individual consultations with students on request.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information

A student is required to attempt all written assessment items to pass the course. Failure to do so will result in a grade of NCN.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 The World on the Eve of War: Europe and Asia 
2 Hitler – Germany’s strategic ambitions and tactical gains 
3 Europe under Nazism – collaboration, resistance and endurance
4 Over-reach: Germany at its zenith, and war with the Soviet Union
5 Asia for the Asians: the ideological and economic logic of the Japanese Empire First assessment item due
6 The United States and war in the Pacific
7 The Holocaust
8 Underbelly – Italy, Africa and Operation TORCH
9 Home Fronts - in Europe, Asia, the US and Australia
10 The Secret War: Spies, signal intelligence and deception 
11 Destruction and Reconstruction Research essay due
12 Aftermath: the coming of the Cold War and reckoning with Japan

Tutorial Registration

Students should register for their tutorial groups through the course Wattle page.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Participation 10 % 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1st Assignment: Mass-Observation at work 20 % 2, 3, 4, 5
Research Essay 40 % 2, 3, 4, 5
Final Examination 30 % 1, 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Core tutorial reading, as identified in this guide, will be available through the WATTLE website for this course, and as a file attachment to each week’s tutorial site. Students are expected to read and reflect on all the reading provided in this file. In addition, this guide also provides extensive lists of other reading, which students are encouraged to consult as their interest guides them, and in preparation for essays and examinations. 

With regard to assessment for tutorial participation, a mark will be determined by assessing each student’s contribution to tutorials (evidence of having done the tutorial reading, a willingness to share ideas, listen to other students and participate in discussion). The following table, while not prescriptive, indicates the criteria your tutor will take into account in making this assessment:


0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10


Irregular attendance at class with no explanation and no contribution to discussion.

Attends class irregularly but rarely contributes to the discussion in the aforementioned ways.

Attends class regularly and sometimes contributes to the discussion in the aforementioned ways.

Attends class regularly and mostly contributes to the discussion in the aforementioned ways.

Attends class regularly; always contributes to discussion by raising thoughtful questions, analysing relevant issues, building on others’ ideas, synthesizing across readings and points, expanding the class perspective, and appropriately challenging assumptions.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4, 5

1st Assignment: Mass-Observation at work

Your first assignment is a 1,000 exercise due no later than 4:30 pm, Friday 25 August 2023. This exercise requires you to address two core objectives:

-        to creatively interrogate primary source material, considering how to understand the creation of such material and to interpret its historical significance

-        to reflect on how that material might be used to present an understanding of World War II to a chosen audience and in a selected medium

The first objective will draw on your skills in historical analysis; the second on your capacities to reflect on a historian’s practice in making their work accessible and engaging in a diversity of forms and purposes.

The ANU Library has a link to an Online Resource developed by the University of Sussex and comprising the archives of Mass-Observation, a pioneering social research organisation founded in the United Kingdom in 1937 and which became increasingly active and integral to the management of the UK’s war effort during World War II. This archive can be accessed at: http://www.massobservation.amdigital.co.uk/. This site also includes background information on Mass-Observation that you might find useful in preparing for this assignment. Approaches to this project and the rubric for its assessment will be outlined in more detail in the course guide and explained in lectures and tutorials.

This assignment must be submitted via the Turnitin portal on the Wattle site for Week 5.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Essay

A 3,000 word case study essay. The essay is due no later than 4:30 pm Friday 20 October 2023. A list of essay questions is on Wattle, but you are also free to refine these questions or to develop your own in consultation with your tutor. You are also encouraged to discuss the progress of your essay with the course convener, guest lecturers and your tutor.  

It is expected that this essay will engage substantially with documentary evidence and historiographical debates and reflections. In researching this essay, students are encouraged to use scholarly databases. Guidance on these approaches will be provided in tutorials

This essay must be submitted via the Turnitin portal on the Wattle site for Week 11.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 4, 5

Final Examination

A three-day, 72 hour, take-home examination will be held at the end of the semester. The Examination’s Office is responsible for timetabling all exams. The examination could be held any time during the exam period. Students should not make arrangements to be absent from the university until the examination timetable is released.

The examination will be divided into three parts, A, B, and C. Each part will have the same weighting and will count for one third of the total exam mark. Students will be expected to answer three questions in total, one question from each of the three parts, A, B, and C.

Part A will contain consist of a document exercise. Students will be presented with a document which has been discussed in tutorials and asked to reflect on its historical significance and contemporary value.

Part B will contain 11 questions, one question based on each of the tutorial topics throughout the course. Students will be expected to write an essay type answer to one question only. You should not write an exam answer relating to the tutorial topic that informed your research essay.

Part C will contain 3 synoptic questions (that is, questions which invite reflection on an issue of theme through which the coverage of the course as a whole can be viewed). Students will be expected to write an essay type answer to one question only. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned to students either through the Wattle site for the course or as email attachments

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Twentieth century political, social and cultural history

Dr Nicholas Brown

Tuesday 14:00 16:00
Tuesday 14:00 16:00
By Appointment
Dr Nicholas Brown

Research Interests

Dr Nicholas Brown

Tuesday 14:00 16:00
Tuesday 14:00 16:00
By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions