Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3743 From Byron to Bin Laden: Transnational War Volunteers

40 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Nir Arielli

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

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module examines how and why transnational soldiers - colonial troops, mercenaries, foreign volunteers and soldiers recruited from POW camps - remained an integral part of modern warfare despite the general trend towards the 'nationalization' of state military forces. Key themes such as colonial recruitment, the mobilizing appeal of ideologies, Diaspora nationalism, masculinity, loyalty and adventurism provide the basis for this module.The module applies a transnational approach to the history of modern warfare, offering a corrective to the orthodoxy that the period since the 1810s has been characterized essentially by national armies and national wars. Using a thematic and comparative approach, this module will highlight the limitations of a state-centred historiographic approach to mobilization in modern warfare by exploring the complexities of motivations and experiences of transnational military service.


To engage students in a comparative and transnational re-evaluation of an aspect of modern military history. To do so by drawing on both the secondary literature and primary sources in English.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will:
a) have a deeper understanding of a broad period of modern global history from a comparative perspective
b) demonstrate familiarity with different types of transnational military service from the Napoleonic Wars to the present
c) demonstrate an ability to analyse a variety of motivations for enlisting for transnational military service
d) demonstrate an ability to make thematic comparisons across a variety of historical situations
e) have a firm grasp of the historiographical controversies surrounding this topic as well as of relevant primary sources


1. Introduction - from professional armies to national armies
2. Empires and colonial mobilization
3. Romanticism and adventurer
4. Gender
5. Push & pull factors
6. Volunteer-state relations
7. Citizenship, borders, passports
8. Professional contractors
9. The role of religion
10. Memory and myth
11. PANEL: guest speakers
12. The Italian Risorgimento
13. The Boer War
14. World War I
15. Russian Civil War, Poland and the Baltic states
16. Spanish Civil War
17. Winter War
18. World War II (part I)
19. World War II (part II)
20. Arab-Israeli war of 1948
21. Afghanistan and Bosnia
22. Iraq, Libya and Syria

Semester 1: themes
Semester 2: case studies

Teaching methods

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

Private study

Exam preparation; researching, preparing and writing assessments; undertaking set reading; self-directed reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Weekly seminar discussions; one-to-one dissertation discussion; oral presentation of students' research in class.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay to be submitted by 12 noon on Monday of exam week 2 in January40.00
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: 25/07/2022 16:34:45


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019