The Tragedy of the Great War - Causes, Consequences and Contrasting Centenaries

Ref: C2337817

Although the Great War’s consequences are indisputable, its origins remain contentious. Re-evaluating each country’s role in the crisis, we will trace the political, social and economic causes of the conflict. Given the war’s contrasting memories and national narratives we will also ask, should we commemorate without reproach.

Course aim

Re-assessing each country's accountability and using the stories of individuals, we will discuss the long and short-term causes of the conflict, concluding with how the centenary is remembered in Britain, France and Germany.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify the main long term key political, economic and cultural preconditions, along with the short term causes leading to war in 1914
  • Express an informed opinion as to whether war was inevitable or avoidable by early 1914
  • Re-examine the origins of German aggression and concomitant guilt
  • Discuss which country was most accountable for the outbreak of war
  • Explain some of the war’s consequences, such as Germany’s divergent remembrance culture

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Although optional, any of the texts recommended by the tutor would enhance the weekly group discussions and participants' personal development.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Students could enhance their research skills through consulting the Derbyshire Records Office and engage in community centennial commemorative projects.

Download full Course information sheet

The Tragedy of the Great War - Causes, Consequences and Contrasting Centenaries


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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