International History since 1890

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Stevenson 3.11 (SAR)


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

Course content

The course aims to equip students with a comprehensive knowledge of international politics since 1890, to provide a factual grounding and interpretive apparatus necessary to understand the contemporary world, and to survey the main historiographical debates. Lectures and classes examine the origins, course, and aftermath of the First World War; the Great Depression, appeasement , and the origins of the Second World War in East Asia and Europe; the course and aftermath of the Second World War and the global origins of the Cold War: and aspects of the Cold War world, including decolonization, European integration, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the ‘American war’ in Vietnam, and peaks and troughs of tension between the superpowers from  the Cuban Missile Crisis to détente. The course closes with the end of the Cold War and the origins of the post-Cold War era.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms. There will be a revision lecture and class in the Summer Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to write three 2,000-word essays during the course of the year, two in MT and one in LT, from topics chosen from a past examination paper or designated in the course reading list, and in addition to complete a one-hour mock examination in LT. Essays and mock examination do not form part of the final course assessment. However, they are required components of the course, and students must complete them in order to be admitted to the course examination.

Indicative reading

A detailed course outline and reading list, subdivided by weekly topics, will be found in the HY116 Moodle site. The following works offer useful background: students should consider reading one  of them in advance: A. Best, J. Hanhimäki, J. Maiolo, K. E. Schulze,  International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond  (2015);  W R Keylor, The Twentieth Century World and Beyond: an International History since 1900 (2011).


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

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2017/18: 177

Average class size 2017/18: 13

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

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