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Course Description

A tall ship sailing into the sunset

Concentrating on developments following the introduction of gunpowder, the course will consider the evolution of military strategy and tactics, the impact of technology on warfare, and the relationship between war and civilian populations.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  • Describe the historical development of and variation in warfare since the Roman age with respect to political, technological, social and cultural changes that shape warfare and its effects on societies;
  • Explain thematic interpretations of that history by problematizing various concepts for understanding warfare, including: feudalism, military revolution, mercenaries, absolutism, industrialization, total war, guerilla war, Cold War, colonization and decolonization, the CNN effect, humanitarian war, child soldiers;
  • Write a research essay and discussion posts that demonstrate the ability to isolate and synthesize key historical examples, extract lessons from that history, and make connections to broader themes of the course;
  • Compare the experiences of historical actors affected by warfare across class, gender, race, time, and in different regions of the globe;
  • Conduct basic historical research in online archives and other scholarly sources to explain and illustrate the above through short pieces of writing and curation of historical primary sources;
  • Summarize, critique, and contextualize historical primary sources to better understand the history of warfare, its causes and consequences;
  • Locate relevant primary and secondary sources from academic and non-academic literature using a traditional library and online archives;
  • Engage in a productive (constructive) dialogue with your peers about difficult topics and your learning (e.g., sharing your ideas, knowledge, and techniques).

Course Topics

  • Classical Warfare
  • Medieval Technology and Social Change, 500-1300
  • The Military Revolution and War at Sea
  • Absolutism and War: Louis XIV to Napoleon, 1661-1815
  • Industrialization and the American Civil War
  • War and the “New” Imperialism
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • Wars of Decolonization in the Cold War: Vietnam
  • Globalized War in the Middle East: The Six-Day War
  • “Humanitarian War” in the New World Order: Somalia and the Gulf War
  • Africa’s “World War”: First and Second Congo Wars

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): 2.00 credits


Assessment Item Weight
Introductions Discussion 5%
Unit Quizzes (12 Total) 10%
Online Discussions (2) 10% each
Primary Source Presentation 15%
Essay 20%
Take-Home Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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