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The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-45 - HIS00092C

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Shane O'Rourke
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This course will provide an introduction to the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-45. The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war against Nazi Germany and contributed more to victory than any other nation. The war on the Eastern Front was the most savage conflict in human history and was seared into the experience of the generation that fought it and subsequent generations. 27 million Soviet citizens died as a direct result of the war, including 9 million Red Army soldiers. Among other topics we will look at the Soviet state, the military conflict, gender roles, the experience of ordinary people and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. This course will provide an understanding of a conflict that is still poorly understood in the West, but became the defining event in the history of the Soviet Union and continues to exert a profound influence over all the successor states of the Soviet Union especially Russia. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To give an intensive introduction to an unfamiliar period and/or approach to the study of history;
  • To offer experience in the use of primary source materials;
  • To develop skills in analysing historiography; and
  • To develop core skills such as: bibliographical search techniques; source analysis; essay writing; giving presentations; and, undertaking independent research.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Acquire an insight into an unfamiliar period and/or approach to history through intensive study of an aspect of the period and/or an approach to it;
  • Gain experience of analysing primary source materials;
  • Be able to evaluate an historical explanation;
  • Have further developed work undertaken in the Autumn Term lecture courses and skills portfolios, including historical analysis, note-taking, using primary sources, presenting to groups, and leading discussions in seminars;
  • Be able to construct a coherent historical argument in oral and written forms

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over nine weeks, plus an overview and revision session in Week 2 of Summer Term. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion. 

The provisional outline for the module is as follows:

Spring Term

1.                                         No teaching

2.                                         Introductory session: Stalin, the Soviet Union and War

3.                                         Topic 1 The Approach of War

4.                                         Topic 2 The War on the Eastern Front

5.                                         Topic 3 The Blockade of Leningrad

6.                                         Topic 4 Women and the War

7.                                         Topic 5 Life in the Occupied Territories

8.                                         Topic 6 The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

9.                                         Topic 7 Relations with the Western Allies

10.                                       Topic 8 The Legacy of the War

Summer Term

2.        Overview and revision


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work:

During the Spring Term students will prepare a presentation in pairs or small groups. Tutors will determine the formative work for the course: all groups will present either on a primary source or on an assigned historiographical question. Formative work will be completed in one or more sessions at the tutor’s discretion.

Summative assessment:

An open exam in the Common Assessment Period, comprising one essay question chosen from five options


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
N/A 100

Module feedback

The formative assessment is a group presentation and verbal feedback will be provided by the tutor in class followed by a written summary to each student within 10 working days. Students will have a 15 minute one-to-one tutorial to discuss the formative assessment and prepare for the summative assessment. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment


Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Should you wish to do any preliminary reading, you could look at the following:

Catherine Merridale, Ivan’s War: The Red Army at War 1939-45 (London, 2006)

Richard Overy Russia’s War: A History of the Soviet War Effort 1941-1945 (London, 1998)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.