WWI: Society, Politics, and Poetry Interactive

Course Synopsis

The ‘Great War’ has been described as a watershed moment in British society, sweeping away the social certainties of the Edwardian period. Its literature often portrays the collision of unquestioning patriotism and idealism with the disillusioning brutality of trench warfare. In this course we will examine the impact of World War I on British society and culture, exploring in particular the politics, ideology, and literature of the time. We will consider both traditional and revisionist interpretations, discussing the enduring power of myth and literature in affecting how the war has been remembered.

Emphasis will be placed on the use of primary sources in order to supplement the lecture material and bring it to life, and the course is packed with supplementary material including audio recordings, video, image sources, enabling students to gain a firm grasp of the concepts studied whilst also developing the skills required of a modern historian.


What’s Included?





Personal Profile

Interactive Tutorials

Quizzes and Exams



Why Take this Course?

This course is ideal preparation for students thinking of studying history at university, exploring an extremely important period of British and European history from a variety of perspectives and encountering a range of methodologies in doing so.

Aims and Objectives

  • To study the social context in which the war began, with a particular look at life and opinions in Britain
  • To discuss the ways in which the First World War revolutionised warfare and battlefield tactics
  • To explore the rich body of literature that emerged from the war and how we view this today

Key Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Discuss the social and political environment before, during, and after the War
  • Appreciate the works of a variety of different writers and poets from the period
  • Apply historiographical methods, such as analysis of primary sources and their contexts


All courses include the following Interactive Tutorial series

Tutorial 1

The World Before the War

1-1.5 hrs

"Never such innocence again," wrote one poet, describing Britain before the Great War. In this tutorial we will examine the politics and culture of pre-war Britain, asking to what extent this was already a society in transition. We will also discuss the international context which led Britain into conflict.

Tutorial 2

Schooled in War

1-1.5 hrs

When war broke out, many men, upper-class and working-class alike, viewed the prospect as a grand adventure and an opportunity to prove themselves. In this tutorial we will discuss reactions to the outbreak of World War I, considering how they illuminate Edwardian ideologies of masculinity. We will consider the impact of the public school ethos, Imperialism as expressed in popular books and magazines, and the 'white feather' campaign which sought to pressure men to enlist.

Tutorial 3

Life and Death in the Trenches

1-1.5 hrs

What was life really like for the men in the trenches? This tutorial will focus on the ways in which wartime experience was different from that of previous wars, discussing the impact of the mechanisation of conflict, the use of poison gas, and the brutality of trench warfare. It will also briefly outline the military history of World War I, highlighting major battles and campaigns.

Tutorial 4

"Oh What a Literary War!"

1-1.5 hrs

It has been argued that World War I was a peculiarly 'literary' war, inspiring authors such as Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. In this tutorial we will discuss the war literature of the period, considering how it was shaped by wartime experience, how it reflected contemporary views of the Great War, and how it in turn has affected the way that both historians and ordinary citizens have remembered the conflict over the past century.

What’s Included?

All courses contain the following elements:

Interactive Tutorials
Online Quizzes
Access to the discussion forum
Access to all course resources
Certificate of completion

Key Details

Course Pre-Requisites Fluent/advanced level of English
An enthusiasm for history and literature, and the ability to consider events from multiple perspectives
Course Level For students of 16-18 years of age, particularly those applying university to study history or literature
Difficulty level: moderate
Fees £29.99
Workload 4-6 hours

Enrolment Options

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