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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Martin Horn

Email: mhorn@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 629

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21602


Office Hours: Wednesday 2:30-4:15

Course Objectives:

There are three principal objectives: 1) to survey the development of the Second World War and its effects upon our world; 2) to introduce the voices of participants through the readings; and 3) to improve communication skills through writing assignments.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Evan Mawdsley, World War II: A New History.

Frans Coetzee & Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee, The World in Flames.

Method of Assessment:




Document assessment                                  15%

Mid-Term exam                                              15%

Essay                                                              30%

Final exam                                                       40%


Dates to Remember


29 January 2015 – Document assessment due.

12 February 2015 – Mid-term exam in class.

18 March 2015 - Essay due.

April 2015 - Final exam date TBA

On Assignments


Students will write two pieces of work in 2YO3.  The first is a document assessment of five typed double-spaced pages.  Students may choose any document in the The World in Flames collection.  Having done so, they will write an essay discussing the ideas and historical significance of the document chosen.  As supporting evidence they must provide at least two additional scholarly sources from either books or journal articles.  The additional sources must be employed and noted using scholarly means – i.e. either footnotes or endnotes, preferably the former. 


The second written piece of work is a formal historical essay.  Students will write a ten page typed doubled spaced essay.  Essay topics are listed below.  Students may write an essay on a topic that is not on the list but must obtain the approval of the instructor or teaching assistant first.  Any essay that is submitted that is not on the approved list of topics or has not been approved by the instructor or teaching assistant will receive a grade of zero automatically.


The research material employed in essays must be drawn largely from scholarly books and articles in academic journals.  A good place to begin to research is with the further reading lists contained in your texts.  Mawdsley (pp. 452-69) and Coetzee (pp. 421-31) both offer suggestions.  E-journals accessed through the McMaster University library may be cited freely and do not count as Web citations.  Databases such as Historical Abstracts and JSTOR (available electronically through Mills Library) are excellent places to begin researching.  See the list of academic journals below, all of which are available electronically through Mills.


What about the Web?  The answer is simple: students may cite Web sources sparingly but should use caution in employing material drawn from the Web.  Web sites employed must be academically reputable.  Web sites such as Wikipedia are unacceptable as a source.  No essay may derive the majority of its citations from web sites.  Any essay that does will receive a grade of zero.  If you have questions as to the acceptability of a Web site, please contact either the instructor or one of the teaching assistants.


Please note that lectures are not an acceptable source for essays.


Students must provide footnotes or endnotes as well as a formal bibliography.  Examples of correct notation may be found in the Chicago Manual of Style (Turabian).  Parenthetical notation, that is notes in brackets in the text of the essay, is not permitted.


The grade written assignments receive will depend upon their clarity of expression and organization, as well as the cogency of the argument made and the thoroughness of the research.  Essays should be well written, argued and researched.  Along with historical content, spelling, grammar and punctuation are taken into account in the final grade.  Students are strongly advised to retain a photocopy of any written work submitted as part of the course requirements. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late essays will be penalized 5% a day including weekends (the latter count as one).  Essays must be submitted directly to the instructor.  Any essay that is submitted after 4:00 on the date due will be deemed late.  Essays may not be submitted by e-mail.  Students are advised strongly to retain both their notes and a photocopy of any written work submitted as part of the course requirements.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Weekly Lecture Topics and Readings


5 January – The Setting for Global War

Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 1, Coetzee, Chapter 1, pp. 4-25.


12 January – War in Asia & the Coming of War in Europe

Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 2 & 3, Coetzee, Chapter 1, pp. 25-31.


19 January - The War in Europe, 1939-41

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 4, Coetzee, Chapter 2.


26 January - The War in Asia, 1941-42

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 7, Coetzee, Chapter 3, pp. 61-79, Chapter 5, pp. 151-58.


2 February – A Global War – The War at Sea

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 9, Coetzee, chapter 6, pp. 177-78, chapter 7, pp. 204-211.


9 February - Ideological War: The Eastern Front & the Holocaust

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 5; Coetzee, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, pp. 308-39, 344-45.


16 February    Reading Week – No classes


23 February – Total War: Economies, Home Fronts & Occupation

Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 11, pp.  322-332, 346-63; Coetzee, Chapter 4, 8, Chapter 10, pp. 340-43.


2 March – The War in Europe in 1942: The USSR & North Africa

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 6 & 10, Coetzee, Chapter 5, pp. 135-150.


9 March – A Global War - The War in the Air

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 11, pp. 332-345; Coetzee, Chapter 6, pp. 164-73.


16 March - The Decisive Years, 1943-44

            Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 8, Coetzee, Chapter 7, pp. 212-225.


23 March – The Killing Years: the End in Europe and Asia, 1945

Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 12 & 13, Coetzee, Chapter 7, pp. 226-236, Chapter 11, pp. 346-54.


30 March – Wars after Wars’ End, 1945-49

            Reading: Mawdsley, Conclusion, Coetzee, Chapter 11, pp. 355-85, Chapter 12.


6 April            - Second Essay return & Exam discussion

Other Course Information:

Essay Topics


1.  Discuss either the origins of the Sino-Japanese War that began in 1937 or the coming of war in Europe in 1939.

2.  Account for either the defeat of France in 1940 or discuss the ramifications of the Fall of France for developments in Asia in 1940-41.

3.  Discuss the Japanese decision to attack the United States in 1941.

4.  Explain the failure of the German invasion of the USSR in 1941-42.

5.  In both the European and Asian theatres it has been claimed plausibly that the Second World War was a racial conflict.  Comment upon the importance of race in the waging of either the war in the Pacific or in Europe.

6.  It has been argued that Allied victory in the Second World War was preordained for the economic calculus – manpower, industry, resources – all so heavily favoured the Allies that the war’s outcome was a foregone conclusion.  Do you agree?  Discuss with reference to the war in Europe.

7.  The Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan) conquered vast territories.  What considerations shaped their occupation policies?  Focus on one of the Axis Powers.

8.  What role did naval power play in either the defeat of Germany or the defeat of Japan?

9.  Why did the Germans fight to the end in 1945?

10.  Discuss the decision to drop the atomic bomb in 1945.

11.  Comment upon the relationship between the Second World War and decolonisation in one of the following: India; Indochina; Algeria between 1939 and 1949.