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10cp from 100-level units in History or Politics and International Relations


HIST110 War and Peace

Unit rationale, description and aim

The fraught relationship between war and peace has shaped the course of modern history, and continues to do so today. Historians are routinely called upon to provide historical analysis of the world-changing impact of both times of war and times of peace. In this unit students will explore key developments in armed conflict, peacemaking and efforts to avert or restrain war, considering their impact on international and other political relations, social and cultural practices, the fates of peoples or groups, and individuals' lives. Students will work with different types of primary and secondary sources to investigate and research some of the key topics in this field. Applying the methods of social and cultural historians and case studies from different historical and regional settings students will interpret and reflect on the ethical and historical debates and relate these to real-world situations in war and peace.

The aim of this unit is to develop a student's capacity provide sound historical analysis of major shifts in patterns of armed conflict; of efforts to glorify, avoid, restrain or oppose armed conflict; and attempts to produce peace and justice in the aftermath of war.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss key historical patterns and changing elements of the social, cultural, political and ethical dimensions of armed conflict and campaigns for peace. (GA5, GA6)

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to war and peace to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument (GA3, GA8, G10) 

LO4 - Apply critical reading skills to your understanding of war and peace and the methods that historians have used to research it (GA4, GA5) 

LO5 - Interpret and reflect on key ethical and historical debates relating to real-world situations in war and peace over time (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics examine themes in case studies concerning the relationship between war and peace in different historical and regional contexts since the nineteenth century. These themes include:  

  • Changes in patterns of armed conflict and their social, cultural, political and ethical dimensions.  


Specific topics considered here may include: 

  •  the causes of war;  
  • different forms of warfare;  
  • shifting forms of terrorism;  
  • genocide; and/or 
  • different forms of militarism and their implications for gender and democracy. 


  • Campaigns for peace, efforts to restrain war and efforts to achieve justice and reconciliation in its aftermath. 


Specific topics considered here may include: 

  •  the concept of treaties and conventions aimed to end or constrain war;  
  • disarmament campaigns and anti-war protests;  
  • the creation of the United Nations;  
  • war crimes tribunals;  
  • peacekeeping missions;  
  • calls for reparation or apologies from war criminals; and/or 
  • forms of commemorating war. 


  • Active history theory and techniques 
  • Advanced techniques in locating and using primary and secondary sources  
  • Historical approaches to research and analysis used by social and cultural historians 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit embraces active learning by taking the form of a face-to-face class containing activities through which students will:  

1) gain a deep understanding of the content covered in the unit.  

The active learning activities in this unit include reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving aimed at promoting analysis and synthesis of class content, paying particular attention to the dynamics of historical and ethical debate about relevant topics. Students will also use case studies to assist them in this process, exploring how what they have learned applies to real world situations.  

2) develop and hone skills fundamental to the discipline of history, including the development of methods for working with and interpreting primary sources; the ability to identify relevant and high-quality secondary sources and incorporate them into their own research and analysis; the ability to process extensive amounts of historical information and identify what is most relevant and valuable; and to communicate their findings in a style appropriate to their audience; and  

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, and assignments etc. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Before attempting advanced level research essays or summative analysis later in the unit, students need to have a strong foundational knowledge of how to locate, read and analyse primary and secondary sources on key elements of the history of war and peace. The investigative task therefore develops students’ capacity to work with and interpret evidence in primary and secondary sources. The task may take the form of: active research tasks that require students to find and use primary and secondary sources; or, digital search techniques for online archives and/or digital newspaper databases; or, "hands on" historical methods such as recording or using existing oral history or using material objects. The investigative task assesses learning outcomes 1 to 3. 

Students then build on the techniques and knowledge demonstrated in the investigative task to find, synthesise and critically discuss evidence related to war and peace in an independent research task. This may take the form of: a research essay or a debate on a key historical topic.The research task assesses learning outcomes 1 to 4. 

The summative task assesses how well students are able to draw together knowledge and skills developed in the unit to provide sound historical analysis of major shifts in patterns of armed conflict; and attempts to produce peace and justice in the aftermath of war. The summative task assesses learning outcomes 2 to 5. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Investigative Task: The key purpose of this assignment is for students to develop skills in working with primary sources and locating and using high-quality secondary sources in order to investigate a topic relevant to the history of war and peace. Skills honed during this assignment will help prepare students for the research task.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Research Task: The key purpose of this assignment is for students to demonstrate research, writing and analytical skills to produce an evidence-based argument that demonstrates critical reading skills and an awareness of ethical and/or historical debates on a topic relating to the unit content. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Summative Task: The key purpose of this task is to test how well students have understood changing patterns of war and peace and reflect on key ethical and historical debates related to real-world situations.  


The lecturer may designate this task to be in the form of short answer responses, test/s, take-home exam, exam, reflective essay/poster or simulation exercise. 


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Adolf, Antony, Peace: A World History (Cambridge: Polity, 2009). 

Andelman, David A., Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today (New Jersey: David Wiley & Sons, 2008).  

Grayling, A.C., Among the Dead Cities: Is the Targeting of Civilians in War Ever Justified? (London: Bloomsbury, 2007). 

Henry, Nicola, War and Rape: Law, Memory and Justice (London and New York: Routledge, 2011).  

Hoffman, Bruce, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).  

Kaldor,Mary, New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Polity, 2012). 

Lake, Marilyn and Henry Reynolds. What’s Wrong with Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History. (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2010). 

Strachan, Hew and Sibyelle Scheipers (eds), The Changing Character of War (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 

Van Engeland, Anicee, Civilian or Combatant? A Challenge for the 21st Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).  

Wittner, Lawrence, Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).  

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