Vietnam War Sources Coursework Assignment

Coursework Assignment: "To what extent did the policy of appeasement cause the Second World War?"

“How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing!” – Neville Chamberlain, 1938


"Appeasement" can be defined as "giving in to someone's demands as far as is reasonably possible to avoid conflict". Throughout the 1930s, Britain and France in particular were very keen on using this policy. They used it in their dealings with Japan (who attacked Manchuria), Italy (who attacked Abyssinnia) and of course Germany (who reached a Naval Agreement with Britain, remilitarised the Rhineland, secured an Anshcluss with Austria and took control of the Sudetenland).

Since World War Two, politicians have been desperate to avoid being accused of appeasement. This has created aggressive foreign policies which are arguably much less well-considered, and just as damaging: Britain plunged into the Suez Crisis and the USA got bogged down in Vietnam (and now Iraq) rather than "surrender" to the demands of "the next Hitler".

This essay assignment will test your ability to

  • Explain how and why Britain and France pursued a policy of appeasement
  • Explain how appeasement led to World War Two
  • Explain how other factors also contributed
  • Explain how these factors are linked together to reach a conclusion.

Although class time will be given over to this assignment, you will also be expected to work on it at home. Your teacher will be able to give you some general advice on structuring essays and about events, issues and concepts - but the actual assignment must be entirely your own work.

Stage 1: Gather your evidence, form your views

Through your studies, you should already be familiar with the main causes of World War Two (German bitterness about Versailles; weaknesses of the League of Nations; the impact of the Depression; the rise of aggressive dictatorships in Japan, Italy and Germany; the policy of appeasement led by Britain and France).

Stage 2: Write the first draft of your essay

Once you feel confident that you understand the events and issues, you can start thinking about writing your essay.

Exhibit A. A sample markscheme for an essay at GCSE / IGCSE level.


General points; little evidence of background knowledge from classroom studies


One-sided answer; factual details about one factor described


One-sided answer; role of one factor explained


Multi-causal answer; factual details about several factors described


Multi-causal answer; role of several factors explained, but in isolation


Multi-causal answer; role of several factors explained, and linked together


Exhibit B. How to write essays at GCSE / IGCSE History. A step-by-step guide by Mr. Tarr.

Stage 3: Write the final draft of your essay

In theory, your essay could be handed in at this point. However, before doing so it is a good idea to have a look at some other sources

GCSE / IGCSE History - Main Menu


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