Fall 2023 - HIST 338 B100

World War II (4)

Class Number: 3573

Delivery Method: Blended


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 225.



An introduction to the history of the origins and course of the second world war.


Battle of Stalingrad

The Battle of Stalingrad. Image URL: https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Stalingrad

The Second World War: The Human Cost of Total War

“I ask you: do you want total war? Do you want it, if need be, even more total and radical than we are capable of imagining it today?” (Joseph Goebbels’ Total War Speech, 18 February 1943)

The Second World War was a conflagration that touched all continents, devastated entire countries, and left millions dead and displaced, sometimes permanently. Its destruction was so pervasive that it renewed the international community’s commitment to a United Nations and ushered in an era of relative peace that continues today – no general European or world war has broken out since 1945. This commitment was underscored by the human experience of total war, which was effectively, and lethally, implemented by various belligerent countries between 1937 and 1945. This course examines the concept of total war, how different countries attempted to achieve a total-war economy leading up to and during the military confrontation, how the war affected both combatants and non-combatants in diverse theatres, and the ways that total war lent itself to the perpetration of atrocities in both Europe and Asia.

Please note: this is NOT a thirteen-week military history of World War II. While some key operations and battles will be discussed, the focus is the political and social (i.e. human) impact of war – soldiers, government figures, and civilians, rather than military strategy and tactics, are the subject.


  • Tutorial attendance and participation 20%
  • Quarterly quizzes, completed online in tutorial (5% each) 20%
  • Short essay 25%
  • Final research project 35%


This blended course features online-only lectures with associated content, and tutorials that meet in person once a week for two hours.



  • Cambridge History of the Second World War, in three volumes (2015) (available online via SFU library)
  • Lizzie Collingham, The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food (2013)
  • Mariette Doduck, A Childhood Unspoken (2023 – to be supplied by the professor)


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.