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The Cold War: A Global History


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor and tutor: Professor Julia Lovell
  • Assessment: a 500-word primary source analysis (17%), 500-word modern scholarship summary (17%) and 2000-word essay (66%)

Module description

The second half of the twentieth century was shaped by the Cold War. In this module we introduce you to its history and the ways in which it shaped the world we live in. We  combine the study of key moments in the Cold War - the communist takeover of Eastern Europe, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - with an exploration of key themes including its impact on decolonisation and the contest for cultural supremacy between the US and the Soviet Union.

Drawing on recent historiography and newly released archival documents, we will take a truly global perspective on the Cold War, examining its impact on Europe and the Atlantic World, Asia and Africa. The seminars will make extensive use of film, literary and visual sources.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction and Cold War origins: manifest destiny and world revolution
  • Postwar settlements
  • Europe divided
  • Asia divided and the Korean War
  • Decolonisation and the Bandung Conference
  • The Cold War as lived experience
  • The Cuban Revolution, at home and abroad
  • The Sino-Soviet split and the Vietnam War
  • The 1970s: towards détente
  • Fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War: legacies and conclusions

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • display a good knowledge of the major themes in the global history of the Cold War
  • compare and contrast modern scholars’ approaches on the subject
  • handle primary sources with confidence and use them as a means of critiquing current paradigms.