Chapter 10 Group Projects

Group projects are a core element of the course, but they are not part of your formal assessment. The group projects are designed to get you used to performing research as a team. For this reason, don’t be intimidated by the scale of the output required - it is calibrated to be too much for an individual, but easily manageable for a small group. You will be assigned a group by me. The projects will be organised on a OneNote notebook, which you will get access to at the start of term.

10.1 Using OneNote

OneNote is a Microsoft product that is selected for ease of use. If you have used Microsoft Word, then the general layout of the software should be familiar to you. The notebook will be accessible if you log into your KCL email through the web portal, and then select OneNote from the options pane.

The notebook will be laid out, so you don’t have to do any page creation/layout. However, there are some ground rules:

  • For clarity, use Harvard referencing where needed. So “The cat sat on the mat (Doe, 2013, 3)” or similar.63 The KCL library offers referencing guides here
  • Don’t edit other people’s work.
  • I’ll ask you to nominate one person in your group to be the person I contact with questions.

10.2 Aims

Why do this? There are three reasons that I have included this activity in the course (and like activities in other courses that I convene). First is that this activity enables you to practice and develop teamworking skills. Second, this activity is designed so that you perform a related piece of group research prior to each assessment. The literature search precedes the literature review, and the case study precedes your essay. Lastly, this activity is intended to get you to think about the possibilities inherent in open and collaborative research efforts.

10.3 Group Research Projects Timeline

All students will do 3 group projects over the course of the module.

This is the summary timeline (it may be tweaked slightly):

  • Week 2: Groups assigned for Literature Search Project
  • Week 6: Deadline for literature search, groups assigned for Case Study Project
  • Week 12: Deadline for case study, groups assigned for the Random Revolutions Project
  • Week 18: Deadline for random revolutions project

10.4 Literature Search

For this group project, each group will be looking at a context for the military revolution in Europe, focusing upon connections between the military revolution and the Americas, West Africa, the Indies and and Asia, and the Ottoman Empire. The idea behind the group work is to give you a chance at performing a literature review and getting feedback on it prior to your assessed work on the course. It also enables you to understand a single context in detail, and the seminar in week 7 will be dedicated to discussing the findings of the course. The idea here is that as a group, you should be able to identify from reading the key works in a given field much easier than you ever could as an individual.

The goal of this project is a functional output. It is designed to be something of use to your fellow students. Note that since other groups will be working on separate projects, you will be able to benefit from their work.

For a minimum of expected output:

  • 2-4 key readings for introduction to the topic (not including those on the reading list)
  • 30+ key works on the topic, including
  • At least 5 works drawn from military history
  • At least 5 works drawn from the history of technology

I realise that the above seems like a lot, but you’ll be doing this in groups of 4-5 students, meaning the workload for each student is effectively locating 6-7 articles/books.

10.5 Case Study

This is a project designed to enable you to work to a project specification. In addition, it is designed to give you some background knowledge for the research series in term 2 that you arrive at through your own research. Your task is to (collectively) write a short (500-1000 word) answer to the question, that explains the central problem(s) in the academic literature, outlines competing arguments (providing key sources), and gives your group’s considered opinion on the answer to the question.

  • What is the best explanation for British counter battery fire innovation 1914-17?
  • Why was the accuracy of Dreyer Fire Control Tables controversial?
  • What can the development of the H2S, and responses to it, tell us about military adaptation?
  • Which system was more innovative, the SCR-268, or the SCR-584?

10.6 Random Revolutions

Term 2 is likely to be stuffed with serious essay deadlines across your various modules. Therefore the final group task is designed to be light-hearted and somewhat reflective. Throughout the module we study different framings of change, and in the final quarter, we’ll be discussing the way in which the history of warfare is periodised. We’ll be studying how people put a lot of thought into periodising history in an academic manner. So for group projects, we are going to do completely the reverse. You will be put into groups at random, and each group will roll dice to select a random start date from 1200-1800.64 That is, if I can find a couple of ten sided dice, otherwise we’ll just use a pseudorandom number generator. As a group, you will be tasked with finding a good argument for technology as a cause of both continuity and significant change in warfare for the 100 year period from your start date. The idea is to force yourself to consider how you may have to constrain or expand your scope of investigation (state/region/globe), as well as how you deploy arguments about processes of change. This might strike you as an anti-academic exercise - it is - but the point of it is to consider the rhetorical role of the theories that we have covered. We’ll be discussing these ideas throughout the last quarter of the course, so no significant written output or research is required, but you should email me 2-3 sentences on each (continuity/significant change) in week 18 to let me know your group hase finished the project.