General Franco's rule of Spain was ably assisted by "right-wing panties", while Alfred Hitchcock's films reflect his life as a "torched Catholic".
Another little known fact, at least according to one student, is that the Ebola virus can lead to death - in some cases fatally.
These misguided statements are some of the bloopers submitted by university lecturers to the Times Higher Education magazine's annual exam howlers competition.
The entries reveal how university students have been left flummoxed in the exam hall or caught out by spelling mistakes.
In one paper on General Franco, a student reliably informed his tutor, Nicholas Martin, a reader in European intellectual history at Birmingham University, that underwear was the secret weapon in the Spanish dictator's armour, stating "General Franco was supported by right-wing panties".
Meanwhile, a film studies student revealed that several of Hitchcock's recurring themes arose because he was a "torched Catholic".
Martin McLoone, director of the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster, who submitted the entry, said: "Of course, in another era, he might well have been."
Another student at a different institution mixed up his metaphors to describe Alain Resnais' controversial Holocaust documentary Night And Fog as "a hotly contested potato".
Jackie Eales, professor of early modern history at Canterbury Christ Church University, submitted an entry which stated: "Britain under the Cromwellian Protectorate was a piranha state".
And Adam Hart, professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire, told how he was faced with an "unpleasant image" of an unlikely union between two eminent Victorians when one student wrote: "Sex has puzzled biologists ever since it was discovered by Darwin and Mendel."