Hitler's lightning war: the Battle for France, 1940 ADED12010E

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: Short Courses
  • Credits: 5
  • Level: Level 1 (SCQF level 7)
  • Typically Offered: Summer
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In the summer of 1940, the Germans conquered the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg), defeated France and drove the British out of Western Europe. Hitler's achievements were sudden and shocking. Franco-British leaders believed they were well prepared for a potential war with Germany, so what went wrong? This course examines the key events that led to German success during this pivotal year, including fraught Franco-British cooperation, the Air War and the Dunkirk evacuation. It also explores the repercussions of this swift defeat. Guided by talks from our expert tutor and discussions with classmates, students will be guided through the main figures and events, examine contemporary materials and compare differing historians' perspectives to gain a better understanding of this pivotal moment in the Second World War.


Block 3

2 hours per week for 5 weeks (weeks 6-10)

Wednesday, 19.00-21.00

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses

No excluded courses. 


The following course offers follow-on study on the Second World War 1939-1945 hence contains some discussion of the events of 1940, although not in as much depth: ADED11698 Fighting the Second World War: British strategy, politics and campaigns, 1939-1945


Any student submitting for assessment on both courses should be cautious to avoid self-plagiarism ie they should not submit the same work for assessment again.





Poster (600 words including graphics) using images and text to depict a key event from the Battle for France in 1940 that contributed to the Allied defeat with reference to at least one contemporary primary source (75%)


Oral presentation by the student recorded as a short audio or film file (5 min) or submitted as a written commentary (500 words) comparing two historical perspectives of this event (25%)

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explain the key figures and events shaping the Battle for France in 1940

■ Provide an opportunity for students to engage with both contemporary primary source materials and secondary historical interpretations relevant to these events

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Recognise and discuss some of the key figures and events shaping the Battle for France in 1940.

■ Review and compare a selection of relevant contemporary sources and conflicting historical interpretations

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.