Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3743 From Byron to Bin Laden: Transnational War Volunteers

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Nir Arielli

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

Year running 2023/24

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


Themes covered in the module include: definitions of transnational military service, motivations for enlisting, the role of gender in shaping motivations and experiences, state-level and international responses to transnational military enlistment, the military contribution of foreign volunteers, the treatment of returnees, memory and myth.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

- Reading to prepare for seminars (120 hours)
- Further self-directed reading (66 hours)
- Researching and writing the essay, including formative elements (80 hours)
- Preparing and producing the presentation, including formative elements (80 hours)
- Reflection on feedback (6 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to discuss a plan of their 4,000-word essay with the module leader in Semester 1.

Semester 2 seminars will include in-class presentations where students will have an opportunity to respond to questions and receive comments from both the tutor and peers.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words50.00
Presentation20-minute presentation, accompanied by a 1000-word historiographical essay/primary source analysis/reflective essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 28/04/2023 14:41:13


Browse Other Catalogues

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

© Copyright Leeds 2019