The Vietnam Wars, 1930-75: Regional and International Perspectives

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Matthew Jones SAR 309


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

The purpose of this course is to place the wars in Vietnam in a fuller regional and international perspective in order to understand their course, outcomes and consequences.  Hence, this will involve not just studying the internal dynamic of conflict within Vietnam, as first French colonialism was met with nationalist and Communist resistance, and then from c. 1959 when insurgency in the southern part of Vietnam eventually triggered wholesale US intervention, but the involvement and interests of other major powers, including the Soviet Union and China.  There will also be a need to examine the relationship between developments in Vietnam and the rest of South East Asia (such as in Laos, Thailand and Indonesia), the connections between the wider Cold War and events in Vietnam, and decision-making on the part of the Vietnamese Communists. Although it will necessarily be important to look at US policies and attitudes, the general aim of the course is to encourage students to depart from a ‘Washington-focused’ perspective and consider the wars in Vietnam as multifaceted, where the interaction of different actors, ideologies, and agendas produced either conflict or moves toward negotiated settlements (as in 1954 and 1970-73).


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students will be expected to read essential primary and secondary material for each weekly two hour class, to deliver presentations, and to participate in seminar discussions.  Reading weeks will take place in week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

One formative essay of 2,000 words maximum is required in week 6 of the MT.

Indicative reading

  • Pierre Asselin, Vietnam’s American War: A History (2018).
  • Pierre Asselin, Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (2013).
  • Mark P. Bradley, Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950 (2000).
  • James Cable, The Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina (1984).
  • Laura M. Calkins, China and the First Vietnam War, 1947-54 (2013).
  • William Duiker, The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam, 2nd ed (1996)
  • Ilya V. Gaiduk, Confronting Vietnam: Soviet Policy toward the Indochina Conflict, 1954-1963 (2003).
  • Christopher E. Goscha, Thailand and the Southeast Asian Networks of the Vietnamese Revolution, 1885-1954 (1999).
  • Kevin Ruane and Matthew Jones, Anthony Eden, Anglo-American Relations, and the Indochina Crisis of 1954 (2019).
  • Matthew Jones, ‘U.S. Relations with Indonesia, the Kennedy-Johnson Transition, and the Vietnam Connection, 1963-1965,’ Diplomatic History, 26, 2, Spring 2002, 249-82.
  • Mark A. Lawrence, The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (2008).
  • Mark A. Lawrence and Fredrik Logevall (eds), The First Vietnam War: Colonial Conflict and Cold War Crisis (2007).
  • Fredrik Logevall, ‘De Gaulle, Neutralization and American Involvement in Vietnam, 1963-1964,’  Pacific Historical Review, 41, 1992, 69-102.
  • Lien-Hang Nguyen, Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam (2012).
  • Mari Olsen, Soviet-Vietnam Relations, and the Role of China, 1949-64 (2006).
  • Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 (2000).


Essay (35%, 3000 words) in the LT Week 1.
Essay (35%, 3000 words) in the ST Week 1.
Source analysis (30%) in the MT Week 9.

Students on this course will be assessed through completion of two 3,000 word essays, and one 1,000 word primary source analysis.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

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