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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3332 The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

40 creditsClass Size: 12

Module manager: Dr Peter Anderson

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

Engage in some of the lively debates surrounding the Spanish Civil War in both its domestic and international contexts and to do so by drawing on both the secondary literature and primary sources in English.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate that they:

- have a deep and informed understanding of the central issues involved in the Spanish Civil War in both its domestic and international contexts;
- understand the different kinds of sources historians draw upon to research the Spanish Civil War in both its domestic and international contexts;
- have a sophisticated and critical knowledge of the secondary literature of the Spanish Civil War;
- have the skills to read and interpret both written and non-written primary sources; and
- are able to express their ideas and arguments effectively and persuasively on paper and in scholarly discussion.


This special subject engages students with a tumultuous conflict which saw the birth of modern war journalism and photography; the advent of terror bombing; one of the most significant revolutions of the twentieth century; the world’s largest volunteer army; the commitment to the fight against Franco of significant numbers of intellectuals such as Hemingway and Orwell; and a conflict which pitched Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Franco against those defending democracy.

In the seminar classes we will start by studying the domestic causes of the civil war. We will also look at how foreign intervention by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany transformed this civil war into an international conflict. We continue by examining how in the wake of British and French refusal to countenance intervention, tens of thousands of volunteers from around the world flooded into Spain to fight Franco's 'fascism'. After discussing the role of the Soviet Union in the war, we go on to analyse the revolution that accompanied the war and which saw large scale collectivisation of industry and agriculture in Spain. Following the study of the curbing of the revolution, we explore the work of George Orwell and the film director Ken Loach, who both lament the crushing of the revolution. This leads into a discussion of the arrival of new forms of war journalism and photography exemplified in the work of correspondents such as George Steer and the photographer Robert Capa. We continue by exploring what some have labelled the poets' war by considering why so many intellectuals saw the Spanish conflict as their own. This section finishes with the study of the impact of the Spanish Civil War on the United Kingdom where it proved to be one of the most divisive events in a turbulent decade. The course goes on to study politics behind the lines in the Franco camp and the making of a dictatorship. It also considers divisions within the Republican government forces, which gave birth to a civil war within a civil war.

The course continues with discussion of humanitarian work in the civil war, and particularly of the British who evacuated 4,000 children in one of the most significant examples of refugee work in the twentieth century. The course then moves onto a study of the social history of the civil war and considers why Franco won the war. It concludes by examining the legacy of the conflict.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

To prepare for seminars students will be expected to study some articles, books and documents. These will be set out clearly in the module handbook.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored on class contributions and the quality of the non-assessed work that they will be required to complete for each seminar.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word written essay to be submitted by 12 noon on Monday of the second week of the January examination period40.00
PresentationVerbal presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:25:07


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