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The Cold War

Second Year Module

Module Leader: Dr Edward Packard

This module examines the origins, course and consequences of the Cold War, from the end of the Second World War until 1991 (and beyond). It is designed to widen knowledge and apply conceptual understandings developed in earlier elements of the History programme. Through a primary focus on the two superpowers, the USA and USSR, and a secondary focus on the global Cold War concept, the course will provide students with the opportunity to assess the merits and limitations of a comparative approach to modern international history. The ideological and political nature of the Cold War will be analysed alongside a consideration of the conflicts social and cultural dimensions. Students will be given the opportunity to analyse a range of visual and textual primary sources, as well as secondary literature, as they debate and formulate their own analyses of the nature and significance of this conflict. The Cold War will provide students with a foundation for some of the theory and content addressed in later modules specifically The History of Genocide and Suffolk at War at Level 6.

Topics include: the origins (ideological and otherwise) of the Cold War during and before the Second World War; the emergence of the two superpowers; the nuclear arms race and the Cuban Missile Crisis, along with efforts to negotiate nuclear arms limitation and reduction; the global nature of the Cold War and its impact on Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East; the eruption of hot wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan; triangular diplomacy with the Peoples Republic of China; the cultural and social impact of the Cold War and the role of propaganda; periods of detente and tension; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR; and the continuing legacy of the Cold War in contemporary affairs.

Learning and Teaching Strategies:

This module will be delivered through weekly lectures andseminars plus tutorial support. Where appropriate supporting resources will also be made available online. Seminar sessions will be designed to encourage student participation and will support students in strengthening their skills of presentation, discussion, argument and debate, and in evaluating, interpreting and using secondary and primary sources.






Weighting %


Submission date

The Cold War

Individual presentation


10 minutes with hand-outs of not less than 2 sides of A4

As scheduled




2000 words

Week 8



2 hours

End of Semester (examination period)


Recommended introductory reading:

O.A.Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, (Cambridge, 2005).

J.L.Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History,(Oxford, 1997).

J.M.Hanhimaki and Odd Arne Westad (eds.), The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts, (Oxford, 2004).

M.P.Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: the United States, the Soviet Union and the Cold War,(New York, 2007).

N.B. Advice on recommended book purchases for this module will be given to students at the start of term.

Further Reading

N.B. A full reading list is included in a module handbook which will be provided in the first week of teaching.

P.Calvocoressi, World Politics 1945-2000,(Harlow, 2001).

M.L.Dockrill and M.F.Hopkins, The Cold War, (Basingstoke, 2006).

J.L.Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War,(Oxford, 2005).

J.L.Gaddis, The Cold War, (London, 2005).

R.L.Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, (Washington DC, 1994).

J.Isaacs and T.Downing, Cold War, (London, 2008).

K.Larres and A.Lane (eds.), The Cold War: The Essential Readings,(Oxford, 2001).

W.Lafeber, America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2002,(London, 2002).

O.A.Westad (ed.), Reviewing the Cold War: Approaches, Interpretations, Theory,(London, 2000).