The First World War is an event that remains of enormous national significance in twenty-first century Britain. As the centenary of the war’s outbreak passed in August 2014, it may seem remarkable that the origins of this conflict are still debated. Yet unlike the Second World War, often understood in a binary fashion of good versus evil, the roots of war in 1914 are generally thought of as far less straightforward.

The goal of this course is to provide an introduction into these debates, focusing on the British experience of Europe’s descent into hostilities. We will look at trends in British foreign policy, social and political upheaval in Edwardian Britain, the ‘July Crisis’ set off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and whether Britain bears any responsibility for the outbreak of war. While this course may not provide all the answers, it will emphasise the continuing importance

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