International Politics since 1914: Peace and War

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Nigel Ashton SAR M.07


This course is available on the BA in History, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in History and Politics, 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.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: 78

Average class size 2021/22: 10

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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