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HISTORY 2Y03 Wwii: A Global History

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Martin Horn


Office: Chester New Hall 629

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 21602

Office Hours: Tuesday 13:30 - 15:15 or by appointment.

Course Objectives:

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.


This course covers the origins, progress, and aftermath of the Second World War.  It takes a broad view of the conflict, from 1937 to 1949, venturing outside the traditional chronological boundaries associated with the war (1939-45).  While the emphasis is upon the war itself and its military, political, and economic aspects, other facets of the conflict will be touched upon.

The course outline may be found at the following link in the department of history:

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


The following are the required texts in the course.  They are available for purchase in the McMaster University bookstore.

Evan Mawdsley, World War II: A New History.
Frans Coetzee & Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee, The World in Flames.

Method of Assessment:

Course Structure

His 2YO3 is a lecture course given three times a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:30-4:20.  There are no tutorials in the course.  The class will run from 8 September to 8 December.  Please note: There will be no lecture on Friday 9 October as well as no classes during the Fall recess 12-16 October.


Document assessment 15%
Mid-Term exam (in class) 15%
Essay 30%
Final exam 40%

Dates to Remember

6 October 2015 – Document assessment due
27 October 2015 – Mid-term exam in class.
24 November - Essay due.
December 2015 - Final exam date TBA

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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.  The documents are framed by comments from the editors of the collection at the beginning of each chapter as well as immediately prior to each document.  These editorial remarks help to provide context for the reader.  Your document assessment must be written about a document and not the remarks penned by the editors.  Assignments that are not written about a document from The World in Flames will receive a grade of zero.  Having chosen a document, students will write an essay discussing the ideas and historical significance of that document.  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.

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 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.  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 4:30 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.

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

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 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 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

8 September  – The Setting for Global War
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 1, Coetzee, Chapter 1, pp. 4-25.

15 September – War in Asia & the Coming of War in Europe
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 2 & 3, Coetzee, Chapter 1, pp. 25-31.

22 September - The War in Europe, 1939-41
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 4, Coetzee, Chapter 2.

29 September - The War in Asia, 1941-42
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 7, Coetzee, Chapter 3, pp. 61-79, Chapter 5, pp. 151-58.

6 October – A Global War – The War at Sea
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 9, Coetzee, chapter 6, pp. 177-78, chapter 7, pp. 204-211.

13 October  - Fall Recess – No classes

20 October      Ideological War: The Eastern Front & the Holocaust
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 5; Coetzee, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, pp. 308-39, 344-45.

27 October – Total War: Economies, Home Fronts & Occupation
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 11, pp.  322-332, 346-63; Coetzee, Chapter 4, 8, Chapter 10, pp. 340-43.

3 November – The War in Europe in 1942: The USSR & North Africa
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 6 & 10, Coetzee, Chapter 5, pp. 135-150.

10 November – A Global War - The War in the Air
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 11, pp. 332-345; Coetzee, Chapter 6, pp. 164-73.

17 November - The Decisive Years, 1943-44
Reading: Mawdsley, Chapter 8, Coetzee, Chapter 7, pp. 212-225.

24 November – 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.

1 December – Wars after Wars’ End, 1945-49
Reading: Mawdsley, Conclusion, Coetzee, Chapter 11, pp. 355-85, Chapter 12.

8 December     - Second Essay return & Exam discussion

Essay Topics

1. Comment upon Japanese policy in China between 1931 and 1937.
2. What considerations governed Soviet policy under Joseph Stalin from 1938 to 1941 when confronted with the threat from Germany and Japan?
3. What factors explain either the sweeping German successes from 1939-41 or the Japanese triumphs in 1941-2?
4. The United States waged a global war from 1941-45.  Discuss the debates within the American high command in Washington in allocating resources to Europe, Asia, and elsewhere.
5. Of what importance was ideology in the prosecution of the war?  Choose one of the principal belligerents – Britain, China, Germany, Japan, USA or the USSR – and discuss.
6. What role did their Empires play in the war effort of either Britain or France from 1939-45?
7. Philipps Payson O’Brien in his recent book, How the War was Won (2015), argues that Allied victory in the Second World War was due to Anglo-American naval and airpower.  Do you agree?
8. Account for the triumph of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War (1945-49).

Research aids

1) Consult the further reading lists contained in the course texts.
2) Use e-article databases: 1) Historical Abstracts; 2) JSTOR
3) Academic journals: The following selected journals publish articles dealing with the Second World War. All are indexed in the databases noted above.  This is not an exhaustive list of journals and some of those listed below publish work in this area irregularly.  These journals are available electronically through the Mills Library:

Diplomacy and Statecraft
Diplomatic History
Economic History Review
Historical Journal
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
International History Review
International Security
Journal of Contemporary History
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Journal of Military History
Journal of Modern History
Journal of Strategic Studies
Past and Present
Transactions of the Royal Historical Society
War and Society
War in History

Other Course Information:

Teaching Assistants
The teaching assistants will hold office hours beginning the week of 14 September and continuing until the week of 14 December.  They will not hold office hours during the fall Recess, Week, 12-16 October.  Please note the following: 1) there are no tutorials in His 2YO3; 2) there is no Avenue to Learn site associated with the course.

On Course Requirements

The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.