Not available in 2023/24
From Cold Warriors to Peacemakers: the End of the Cold War Era, 1979-1999

This information is for the 2023/24 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; from the EC to the EU; the security arrangements of Russia and NATO after 1991.


20 hours of seminars in the AT. 20 hours of seminars in the WT. 20 hours of seminars in the ST.

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);
  • Vladislav Zubok, Collapse (2021);
  • 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 WT.
Essay (60%, 3500 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2022/23: 16

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

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.