History (HIST) 367

The Second World War (Revision 2)

HIST 367 Course Web site

Temporarily closed, effective February 2, 2021

Delivery Mode: Individualized study with DVD component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None. HIST 202 and HIST 216 are strongly recommended.

Precluded Course: HIST 367 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—GLST 367. HIST 367 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for GLST 367.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

HIST 367 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Check availability


This course is intended to provide a fuller understanding of the events and attitudes of the war years and of some of the arguments that are very much alive today concerning what really happened in that vital decade of 1937 to 1947. The Second World War still affects our lives. The division of much of the postwar world into two armed camps, one dominated by the United States and the other by the Soviet Union, was to a large extent the result of actions taken and decisions made during the previous decade. The Second World War also directly affected the personal stories of many of us, through family deaths or marriage or other fundamental social changes that resulted from the worldwide upheaval.

This course will focus on a number of key wartime events, as well as on the issues and controversies that often still surround them and continue to absorb modern-day historians because of their political, social, moral and ethical implications and consequences. These will include but are not limited to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis; the expansion of Imperial Japan; the Nazi-Soviet Pact; the Fall of France and the Battle of Britain; the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union; the Nazi occupation of much of Europe and the adoption of the “Final Solution”; the area bombing of Germany; D-Day and the liberation of France; the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan; and the legacy of the Second World War and the postwar crisis that followed it.


  • Unit 1: Sources of War in the West
  • Unit 2: Sources of War in the East
  • Unit 3: Expansion of the European War, 1939–1940
  • Unit 4: Expansion of the War in Asia, 1937–1941
  • Unit 5: Great Britain at War
  • Unit 6: Soviet Russia at War
  • Unit 7: Nazi Germany at War: The Fate of Occupied Europe
  • Unit 8: In the Balance: The Western Theatre, 1941–1943
  • Unit 9: The War at Sea
  • Unit 10: The War in the Air
  • Unit 11: Imperial Japan at War: The Pacific Theatre, 1942–1943
  • Unit 12: The Defeat of Nazi Germany
  • Unit 13: The Defeat of Imperial Japan
  • Unit 14: The Postwar Crisis and the Legacy of the Second World War


To receive credit for HIST 367, you must obtain at least 50% on the examination and achieve a final course composite grade of D (50 percent) or better. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Assignment Weight
Discussion Forum Questions 10%
Quizzes 10%
Timeline 10%
Assignment 1 (Short Essay) 15%
Assignment 2 (Research Essay) 25%
Final Examination 30%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Calvocoressi, Peter, Guy Wint, and John Pritchard. The Penguin History of the Second World War, 2nd ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999. (Provided in the course as a PDF.)

Other Materials

The course materials include an online study guide, online readings from learned journals and ebooks, and DVDs of the Thames Television series The World at War (26 episodes) which students will be able to borrow from the AU Library.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the HIST 367 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the entire challenge examination.

Activity Weighting
Part I: Exam 50%
Part II: Exam 50%
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, June 7, 2018.

View previous syllabus