Course Description

Course Name

History of the Cold War

Session: VPGS1324

Hours & Credits

6 ECTS Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course Description
The course begins by examining the uneasy alliance that developed in 1941 between the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union against the threat of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers. We will then trace the deterioration of this alliance after 1945 into hostile camps, and the intensification of superpower conflict in Asia during the 1950s. The death of Stalin in 1953 brought with it some hope for a relaxation of these tensions. But by the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s, the Cold War had entered its most dangerous period, with crises in Europe and the Caribbean (the successive Berlin and Cuban Missile crises) which very nearly resulted in a nuclear
A period of so-called détente followed in the later 60s and the 1970s. But a relaxation in tensions between the two superpowers was paradoxically characterised by an intensification of conflict on the periphery of the superpowers’ spheres of influence – in South East, the Middle East and Africa. America’s unending war in Vietnam, and the war fought between the Arab states and Israel in 1973 – almost brought the world economy to the brink of collapse in the 1970s.
The Cold War would enter another intense phase – the so-called “Second Cold War” – in the late 1970s and early 1980s, almost resulting in the outbreak of nuclear war in 1983. Yet, just at the point where the conflict seemed at its most intense and irreconcilable, it suddenly and unexpectedly ended with the coming to power in the Soviet Union of Mikhail Gorbachev and the rapid collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe in 1989 and of the Soviet Union itself in 1991.


Course Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Understand the historical relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, particularly as it
developed after 1945;
– Understand the main rival schools of thought regarding the causes and development of the Cold War – the
"Orthodox School," the "Revisionists," the "Post-Revisionists" and the "Post-Soviets";
– Have gained an understanding of some of the more controversial topics relating to the Cold War period,
such as the decision to drop the atomic bomb; whether the Soviet;
– Have gained a basic acquaintance with some of the key documentary sources relating to the Cold War;
– Consider the role of great power strategic and economic interests, competing ideologies (capitalism,
democracy, imperialism, communism, Pan-Slavism), nationalism, ethnic conflict and anti-colonialism in
shaping the Cold War conflict.

*Course content subject to change