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'War without Hate': The North African Campaign, 1940-1943

Module title'War without Hate': The North African Campaign, 1940-1943
Module codeHIH1018
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Neal Dando (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The campaign in North Africa was of vital importance to Britain and the war effort to maintain the Empire. Arguably it also heavily influenced the later direction of the Allied war effort to defeat the Axis in European and Mediterranean theatres. It also had a bearing on immediate and post-war relations with the USA. The course does not assume prior knowledge of the topic, and encourages you to engage with the wide range of sources available to conduct your own examination into this important British campaign during the Second World War.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will introduce you to a wide variety of primary sources about the campaign in North Africa from 1940 to 1943. The module objective is to study the sources and discuss their usefulness to historians use and what they can tell us about the campaign and its importance to the Allied war effort, during the Second World War. The primary focus of this module is to develop your own ability to interpret the primary sources both in seminars and in concise commentaries.

The seminars listed below will focus on various sources, such as Cabinet meetings, military planning records, regimental war diaries, political speeches, soldiers’ diaries, letters and memoirs, German military documents, photographs, newspaper articles, film, wartime poetry and artwork. You will also have the opportunity to conduct your own research into these sources, consider their value and limitations, and use them to explore particular topics and themes. This module will help you develop skills in source analysis and research to provide a foundation for future historical work.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Understand and assess the main developments in the North African campaign, 1940-1943
  • 2. Work critically with a range of written and visual sources relating to the topic

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, etc, and compare the validity of different types of sources
  • 4. Present work orally, respond to questions orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 6. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 7. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group
  • 8. Write to a very tight word-length

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction week and background
  • Mussolini – Il Duce’s 'Parallel War' in North Africa
  • War in the ‘blue’ Daily life in the Western Desert
  • 'Churchill's War': Churchill's complex relationship with the Middle East
  • ‘Desert Rats’ the organisation
  • doctrine and culture of Eighth Army
  • Rommel’s War and his quest for the Nile
  • War Reporters and the view from home
  • The Supply war and the importance of Malta and Tobruk
  • For Empire: the experience of Commonwealth Troops under British command
  • Jock Columns and Rogue Warriors-a new warfare
  • 'On our way!' Operation Torch and the impact of U.S. Forces
  • A concluding discussion about the usefulness of sources when assessing the Allied campaign

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22 hour lecture: Introduction to module
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2010 x 2 hour seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week
Guided Independent Study128You prepare for the session through reading and research; writing five source commentaries and an essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation (3-4 students)10-15 minutes1-7Oral
Lowest mark from portfolio of 4 source commentaries750 words1-3, 5-6,8Mark and written comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
3 highest marks from portfolio of 4 source commentaries1002250 words (750 words per commentary1-3, 5-6, 8Mark and written comments.


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
3 highest marks from portfolio of 4 source commentaries3 highest marks from portfolio of 4 source commentaries1-3,5-6,8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Texts for further reading;

  • Atkinson, Rick, An army at dawn : the war in North Africa, 1942-1943, New York : Henry Holt & Co., 2002.
  • Barr, Niall, The Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of Alamein, London, Pimlico, 2005.
  • Beckett, F.W., (ed.), Rommel: a reappraisal (Barnsley, 2013), ERESOURCE. 
  • Barnett, Correlli, The desert generals, (London: Cassell, 1999)
  • Danchev Alex & Todman Dan, (eds.), War diaries, 1939-1945. Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke (London, 2001).
  • Fennell, Jonathan, Combat and morale in the North African campaign : the Eighth Army and the path to El Alamein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • Mark Johnston, An Australian band of brothers : Don Company, Second 43rd Battalion, 9th Division ; Tobruk, Alamein, New Guinea, Borneo (ERESOURCE, 2018). 
  • Katz, David B., South Africans versus Rommel; the untold story of the desert war (ebook; Connecticut, 2018). 
  • Kippenburger, Howard, Infantry Brigadier (OUP: Oxford, 1949)
  • Mallett, Robert, Mussolini and the origins of the Second World War, 1933-1940 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
  • von Mellethin, F.W., Panzer Battles (London: Spellmount, 2008)
  • Moorehead, Alan, The desert war : the North African campaign 1940/1943 (London: Hamis Hamilton, 1965)
  • Norén Karl-Gunnar & Lars Gyllenhaal, The Long Range Desert Group; History and Legacy (Helion, 2019)
  • Rolf, David, The Bloody Road to Tunis: Destruction of the Axis Forces in North Africa Nov 1942-May 1943 (London: Greenhill, 2001)
  • Roy, Kaushik, The army in British India from colonial warfare to total war, 1857-1947 (London : Bloomsbury, 2014)
  • Schmidt, Heinz Werner, With Rommel in the Desert (London: Constable, 1951)
  • Singh, Gajendra., The testimonies of Indian soldiers and the two world wars between self and sepoy (London: Bloomsbury, 2014)
  • Toye, Richard, The Roar of the lion; the untold story of Churchill’s wartime speeches (Oxford, 2015)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

British Army, Mediterranean, North Africa, Churchill, Axis, Torch, Vichy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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