HS3T82-Axis at War: Life and Death in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, 1936-45

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Patrick Major

Email: p.major@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:


Part 3 Options involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of history.

Part 3 Options involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of history.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•identify and explain the main issues and events studied
•acquire a detailed knowledge of the events through extensive reading in specialised literature
•locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research
•appraise critically the primary sources and historical interpretations of the subject
•organize material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:

We explore the everyday history of extraordinary times for Italians and Germans under fascism and in the crucible of war. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany had entered World War Two as Axis allies, but from 1943 Italy was embroiled in a virtual civil war, occupied in the north by the Germans and in the south by the advancing Allies. We shall examine morale on the home and fighting front through a range of primary sources, from propaganda posters and newsreels, to diaries, secret police reports and even bugged prisoner-of-war conversations. What were ordinary Italians and Germans hearing on the radio? What did they see in the cinema? The module places a premium on cultural representations of the fascist experience, and will screen a weekly film, as well as giving you an opportunity to read some of the classic literary texts of Primo Levi or Hans Fallada. We also ask why there was no meaningful resistance in Nazi Germany, but armed partisans fought in Italy in an unholy alliance of Marxists, liberals, Catholics and British and US intelligence. It finishes by revisiting the moment of liberation and the violence that accompanied it on the cusp of the new global conflict, the Cold War. The seminars will follow the following themes: 1. Home Fronts: Volksgenossen and Brava Gente? 2. Propaganda: Cinecittà and ‘ProMi’ between Hollywood and the BBC 3. Fighting Fronts: From El Alamein to Stalingrad 4. Occupation: from Mare Nostrum to General Plan East 5. Helpless Bystanders?: Ordinary Italians and Germans, the Vatican and the Holocaust [6. no formal teaching] 7. Cracking-Point?: Axis Morale under the Bombs 8. Collaboration: Vichy and Salò 9. Resistance: Patriotic Struggle or Civil War? 10. Liberation and Retribution: the Pax Americana in the Emerging Cold War 11. Bad Memories: Remembering (and Forgetting) the Past

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars, requiring preparatory reading and investigation, may include informal and interactive presentations by the module teacher; structured group discussion; short seminar papers by students; occasional tutorials; team-based simulation exercises and debates; examination of primary and secondary sources. Students are expected to carry out self-directed revision in the Summer term. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 169
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one essay of not more than 2,500 words, to be submitted electronically via Blackboard by 12 noon on the Monday of week 9 of the term. Five marks will be deducted if the coursework essay exceeds 2,625 words (ie 5% over the word limit).

Formative assessment methods:
1,000 words or 2 pages of A4 maximum to include, at the module convenor's discretion, an essay plan, bibliography, book review or other preparatory work towards the summative essay.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 3 examinations.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students who fail Part Three are permitted one further attempt at a resit in each module they have failed. Students who fail Part Three will no longer be eligible for an Honours Degree but, assuming the necessary threshold after the resit (normally an overall average of 35% or above) is achieved, students will obtain a Pass Degree. Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) ONLY in August. These will be capped at a maximum mark of 40%. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: Purchase of textbooks is not compulsory, but students should consider setting aside £25 per course to cover the purchase of useful books
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 July 2017

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