The Cold War: A Global History (HISM027)

StaffDr Tobias Rupprecht - Lecturer
Dr Nelly Bekus BEKUS-GONCZAROWA - Lecturer
Dr Dora Vargha - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will examine new directions in the historiography of the Cold War and the ways in which recent research has changed or confirmed conventional narratives. The course will be structured to reflect a range of perspectives from which the Cold War has been and is currently studied, among them history of science, colonial and post-colonial history, global history, history of everyday life, and cultural history. We will read classic scholarship alongside new approaches to Cold War history, drawing on a wide range of sources from memoirs through propaganda material to science fiction. Through these discussions, we will explore conceptual and methodological questions for writing the global history of the Cold War. We will ask how shifting perspectives away from the US-Soviet binary changes the way we conceptualise the conflict; what a global perspective can reveal about the Cold War’s stakes and the relationship of the two superpowers; how the Cold War evolved as a global conflict; and if the Cold War is the best framework to approach the second half of the 20th century.

The module will familiarise students with key historiographical debates, and also allow them to engage with primary sources.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Locate and evaluate critically the relevant primary and secondary source materials required to investigate a specific historical or methodological question.
  • 2. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of key themes and approaches in the study of the global history of the Cold War.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 4. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates.
  • 6. Research for themselves and present independent accounts and interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop the capacity for independent critical study and thought.
  • 8. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of on-line finding aids).
  • 9. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 10. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).

Syllabus plan

Exact syllabus may vary year to year but the module will examine topics such as:

Global History, Transnational History and Understanding the Cold War

Big Science, Big Weapons

The Cold War, Decolonisation, Rights and Race

International Organizations in the Cold War

The Non-Aligned Movement 

Transnationalism and Social Movements in the Cold War

Heated moments in a Cold War: conflicts within and without 

Iron or nylon curtain? Interactions and mobility between East and West 

Beyond a divided world: scientific collaboration across the globe

Capitalist and alternative globalisations: From the New international Economic Order to Globalisation

When, where and how did the Cold War end?

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study278Preparation for seminars, essays and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing1-10Oral through discussion with peers and tutor.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay674000 words1-10Oral and written
Individual Presentation3320 minutes and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Oral and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/deferral period
PresentationScript as for 20 minute presentation and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of one 4,000 word essay, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script and accompanying visual aids that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech. Instead of reflecting on the delivery of the presentation and its reception, as in the original assessment, the reflective commentary will explore the objectives and intended delivery methods of the presentation.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Sari Autio-Sarasmo and Brendan Humphreys, eds. Winter Kept Us Warm: Cold War Interactions Reconsidered, Aleksanteri Cold War Series. Helsinki: Alexanteri Institute, 2010. 

Robert J. McMahon, ed. Cold War in the Third World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013

Gabrielle Hecht, Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011. 

Hong, Young-sun. Cold War Germany, the Third World and the Global Humanitarian Regime.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 

Naomi Oreskes and John Krige, eds. Nation and Knowledge: Science and Technology in the Global Cold War. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2015. 

Westad, Odd Arne, The Global Cold War. Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007

Artemy Kalinovsky and Craig Daigle, eds. The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War, edited by. London: Routledge, 2014

Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad, eds., Cambridge History of the Cold War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010

Tobias Rupprecht. Soviet Internationalism after Stalin: Interaction and Exchange between the USSR and Latin America During the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Oscar Sanchez-Sibony, Red Globalisation: The Political Economy of the Soviet Cold War from Stalin to Khrushchev, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014

Mark Mazower, Governing the world: the history of an idea, London: Allen Lane, 2013

Marcos Cueto, Cold War, Deadly Fevers: Malaria Eradication in Mexico, 1955-1975.  Washington, D.C.; Baltimore: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

Anette Vowinckel, Marcus M. Payk and Thomas Lindenerger, eds. Cold War Cultures. New York: Berghahn, 2012

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Key words search

Cold War History, Global History, History of Science, History of Technology, Decolonisation, History of Internationalism, Social Movements, Globalisation