International Politics since 1914: Peace and War

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor David Stevenson SAR 3.11 Michaelmas Term

Lent and Summer Terms TBC


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,  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. 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.


Lectures will be pre-recorded and accessible online. The School aims to run in-person classes, subject to circumstances, with some online provision if and where necessary. 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).


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 125

Average class size 2020/21: 12

Capped 2020/21: Yes (190)

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