The History of the United States since 1783

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Alan Sked E503


This course is available on the BA in History, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

May be taken by 3rd years where regulations permit

Course content

A survey of the political, diplomatic, social, economic and constitutional history of the USA since 1783. Topics covered will include the framing of the constitution; the establishment and development of federal institutions; the politics of the founding fathers; the 'era of good feelings'; Jacksonian democracy; slavery and the South; the Civil War; reconstruction; the moving frontier; the era of the 'robber barons'; populism and progressivism; Jim Crow; US imperialism; isolationism and world wars; the US and the Cold War; civil rights and the 'great society'; politics and society in contemporary America. General interpretations of US history will also be covered.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 3 hours of lectures and 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to write one essay in the Michaelmas term and one in the Lent term as well as do at least one class paper over the year. There will be a mock exam in the summer term.

Indicative reading

Key works include: Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty. American History 1607-1990; Bruce Collins, The Origins of America's Civil War; Eric Foner, Reconstruction, America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877; Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000; J M McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era; B W Poulson, Economic History of the United States; C van Woodward (Ed), A Comparative Approach to American History; Harvard Sitkoff (ed), Perspectives on Modern America. Making Sense of Twentieth Century America; Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation. America and the World 1600-1898; Robert Cook: Sweet Hand of Liberty? The African Struggle for Civil Rights in the Twentieth Century.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2012/13: 44

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills