International Politics since 1914: Peace and War

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof David Stevenson SAR 3.11


This course is available on the BA in History, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Government and History, BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History, 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

This course offers an overview of international politics since 1914, providing a factual grounding and surveying 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 also addresses the history of international organizations and of peace movements. It closes with the end of the Cold War and the origins of the Persian Gulf/Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003.


Students will engage with lecture content through recorded lectures and external content, as well as through live Q&A sessions. There will be a reading week in the Michaelmas and the Lent terms. 

Formative coursework

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

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).


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2019/20: 133

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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