Not available in 2021/22
The International History of the Balkans since 1939: State Projects, Wars, and Social Conflict

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Svetozar Rajak SAR.3.15


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, 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

This course examines the history of the Balkans in the second half of the Twentieth century and on the threshold of the Twenty First century. It is not, however, designed to provide a simple historical overview of the region during this period. The course aims to integrate broader themes and interpretations of the Cold War and its legacy, and of deeper civilizational undercurrents of the second half of the Twentieth Century, with the study of the region and its only federation, Yugoslavia. To do so, it invokes three main themes that will also facilitate insight into the interaction between the global, regional, and country specific. Firstly, the course will explore the regional and inter-bloc dynamics within the structured Cold War system by looking at the impact the Cold War had on the region, and, at the influence the Balkans, in particular the Greek Civil War and Yugoslavia's conflict with the USSR exercised on the institutionalization and the dynamics of the Cold War during its nascent decade. Secondly, the course will look into the unique role Yugoslavia played in the creation of the alternatives and challenges to the bipolar structure and rigidity of the Cold War world, namely the Non-aligned Movement, and the ideological heresy, the so called "Yugoslav road to Socialism" that created a schism within one of the ideological poles of the Cold War, the Soviet Communism. Thirdly, the course will offer insight into the dramatic impact the end of the Cold War on the developments in the region, in particular on the collapse of the Yugoslav federation. Moreover, it will assess the role that the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars of secession had on the creation of the concepts that became the building blocks of the post-Cold War international system, namely nation-building, humanitarian intervention, international community, conflict-resolution, limited sovereignty, decreasing role of the UN, American hegemony, etc.


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 Michaelmas and the Lent Terms.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write one 3,000-word essay in the Michaelmas term. There will also be a mock exam (a one-hour essay, in class) in the end of the Lent term.

Indicative reading

Crampton, Richard J., The Balkans Since the Second World War, (New York: Longman, 2002)

Glenny, Misha, The Balkans 1804 - 1999: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, (London, Granta Books, 1999)

Jelavich, Barbara, History of the Balkans: Twentieth Century, Vol. 2, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983)

Dimitrov, Vesselin, Stalin's Cold War: Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, 1941-48, (Basingstoke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Ramet, Sabrina, The Three Yugoslavias: State Building and Legitimation, 1918-2005, (Washington D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Bloomingtin and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2006)

Todorova Maria, Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press, 1997

Lawrence S. Wittner, American Intervention In Greece, 1943-1949, (New York, Columbia University Press, 1982)

Peter J. Stavrakis, Moscow and Greek Communism, 1944-1949, (Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1989)

Rajak, Svetozar, The Cold War in the Balkans: From the Greek Civil War to the Soviet-Yugoslav Normalization in Leffler, Melvyn and Westad, Arne (eds), The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume I: Origins, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Rajak, Svetozar, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in the Early Cold War: Reconciliation, Comradeship, Confrontation, 1953-57, (London: Routledge, 2011)

Woodward, Susan L., Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995)

Bose, Sumantra, Bosnia After Dayton: Nationalist Partition and International Intervention, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (25%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Class participation (15%) and presentation (10%) in the MT and LT.

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: 10

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information