Islands at War in the 20th Century: Invaders, Occupiers and Liberators: HIST4277

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will examine the history and, where relevant, the archaeology of islands at war during the twentieth century, in the main via a number of cases studies - e.g. The US/Moro War in the Philippines (1899-1913) German invasion of Crete (1941), Japanese invasion of Singapore (1942), German Occupation of the Channel Islands (1940-45) The War in the Pacific (1941-45), Cuba - Bay of Pigs (1961) and Missile Crisis (1962), Turkish Invasion of Cyprus (1974), Falklands War (1982), US Invasion of Grenada (1983). Where relevant, processes of invasion, occupation and liberation will be analysed within a wider military and political context, while the history and culture of the islands, which in some cases will have been shaped by colonialism, will be considered, so as to understand the impact on civilian/indigenous populations and present day legacies.


At least two hours per week, though multiple seminar sessions probably required to accommodate entire class.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses





Exam (2-hr duration) - 70%

Essay (2500 words) - 20%

Presentation and Seminar Paper (10 minutes) - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Prepare students for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including archaeological remains and elements of material culture, thereby developing intellectual skills that will be of benefit in a wide range of careers.

■ Introduce students to diverse source materials via seminars oral and written communication skills enhanced in ways designed to address employers' expectations for highly literate and highly articulate graduates who are able to deploy a range of research tools.

■ Familiarise students, through source-criticism, with a range of problems of interpretation arising from different usages of language, underlying meanings and intentions, differing standards of objectivity, and the variety of purpose and intent associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other).

■ Ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations is fully recognised. The seminars aim to encourage student-led learning and the facilitation of rigorous and informed debate.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Develop a thorough knowledge of the military campaigns associated with the islands in question and an appreciation of the similarities and differences between them.

■ Situate these island-centric conflicts within their wider military and political contexts - why have islands played a key role in wider conflicts?

■ Critically assess the effectiveness of the strategies and tactics related to attack (which in most cases include combined arms assaults with amphibious elements) and defence, and the impact of occupation on local/indigenous populations.

■ Interpret primary manuscript and material sources relating to conflict on these islands, including newspaper and newsreel sources (written fiction and cinema will also be relevant in some cases). The material sources will include archaeological remains and elements of material culture.

■ Appreciate, compare, contrast and - when possible - reconcile multiple interpretations of key events, important historical debates (including, where relevant, those related to sovereignty) and the long-term legacy of these conflicts, including various forms of memorialisation.

■ Present such understanding in written and oral assessments and in class debate in an imaginative and complex manner, showing an appreciation of audience and the constraints imposed by the assessment regime.

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.