BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

20 October 2014
world war one
BBC Schools  Homepage

BBC Homepage
World War I Home
Enquiry 1
Enquiry 2
Enquiry 3
Enquiry 4
Enquiry 5
Enquiry 6
Enquiry 7
Enquiry 8
Enquiry 9
Web Links
Schools Help

Contact Us

Enquiry 2: Causes
How did one murder lead to world war in 1914?
Mini Enquiry Questions
  • What long-term factors led to the outbreak of war?
  • What short-term factors helped trigger World War 1?
  • Which factor was the most important cause of World War 1?
  • Was war inevitable?
  • Was Germany really to blame for the outbreak of war?
Timing - 3 Lessons
Assessment Focus
Key Stage 3 (Levels 4-7):
  • 1 - to recognise and make appropriate use of dates, vocabulary and conventions that describe historical periods
  • 2c - to analyse and explain the reasons for, and results of, the historical events, situations and changes in the periods studied
GCSE: Recall, select, organise and deploy knowledge of the specification content to communicate through description, analysis and explanation of the events, people and changes studied
Standard Grade: S3-S4
Learning Objectives
Pupils should learn:
  • the main reasons why war broke out in 1914
  • how to identify long term, short term and trigger causes
  • how to analyse and explain the reasons for a historical event
Suggested Teaching Activities
Lesson 1:
  • construct a table or a diagram to show the main sources of tension between different countries
  • categorise the factors that caused the outbreak of war into long-term, short-term and trigger causes
  • discuss:
    (a) whether the system of alliances made war more or less likely
    (b) which alliance was likely to succeed if war broke out
    (c) which factor was the most important cause of World War 1
Lesson 2:
  • Pair/ small group research followed by class discussion:
    The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand decided only the time of the outbreak of war. It would have happened anyway. Do you agree?
Lesson 3:
  • Small group research followed by formal assessed debate: Was Germany to blame for starting the war?
Extension Activities
Pupils examine the Timeline (Causes) carefully and answer the following question:
Did the events leading to the outbreak of the First World War have to have happened in this order to bring about war?
Points to Note

Literacy - This enquiry provides a range of opportunities to develop and assess speaking and listening skills through: small group discussion, whole class discussion and a formal debate.

Print text Go to Enquiry 2: Activity Sheet

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy