From Cold Warriors to Peacemakers: the End of the Cold War Era, 1979-1999

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Kristina Spohr, SAR 2.17


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

International relations from the early 1980s to the late 1990s examining tensions, rivalries and linkages not merely between the Western and Communist blocs, but also within them, as well as studying the events reflecting the shift from the era of bipolarity to the post-Cold War world. The aim is to address from a historical perspective the diplomacy of the end of the East-West conflict, China’s exit from the Cold War, German reunification, Soviet disintegration, Yugoslavia’s bloody implosion, European integration, and NATO enlargement. The domestic bases of as well as the political relations between the leading figures (Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Reagan, Bush, Deng, Thatcher, Major, Mitterrand, Delors and Kohl) and respective government machineries will be covered. Major topics include Thatcherism; Reaganomics; Gorbachev's new thinking; the reunification of Germany; the collapse of the Soviet Union and its wider empire; the Kuwait crisis and Yugoslavian Wars; America’s unipolar moment; the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and the Euro; the security arrangements of Russia and NATO after 1991.


The School aims to run in-person seminars, subject to circumstances, with some online provision if and where necessary. There will be a reading week in the MT and the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to present one short class paper during the MT or the LT as well as to submit a practice essay (1,500 words) during the MT.

Indicative reading

A detailed course outline and reading list, subdivided by weekly topics, as well as selected documents will be available at the beginning of the course on Moodle. Key books include:

  • Kristina Spohr, Post Wall, Post Square (2019);
  • Philip Zelikow & Condoleezza Rice, To Build a Better World (2019);
  • Hal Brands, The Unipolar Moment (2016);
  • Kristina Spohr and David Reynolds, eds, Transcending the Cold War (2016)
  • Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993);
  • EHH Green, Thatcher (2006);
  • Julius W Friend, The Long Presidency, France in the Mitterrand Years (1998);
  • George Bush & Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (1999);
  • William Taubman, Gorbachev (2018);
  • Misha Glenny, The Balkans 1804-1999 (2012);
  • Saki Dockrill, The End of the Cold War Era (2005);
  • Kenneth Dyson and Kevin Featherstone, The Road to Maastricht (1999);
  • Sean Kay, NATO and the Future of European Security (1998);
  • Daniel S. Hamilton and Kristina Spohr, eds, Open Door: NATO and Euro-Atlantic Security After the Cold War (2019).


Essay (40%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Essay (60%, 4000 words) in the ST.

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: 13

Average class size 2020/21: 7

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information