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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The United States and the Cold War (PGHC11341)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course analyses the US's role in and approach to the Cold War by focusing on key thematic questions and recent historiographical controversies.
Course description The course focuses on US foreign policy in the Cold War. Rather than being thematically and chronologically exhaustive, the programme singles out key events and historiographical controversies, such as the origins of the Cold War, crisis management, modernization theories, the Vietnam War, d├ętente, and the end of the Cold War. One of the central questions of the course is how the United States understood the dangers and challenges it was confronting, and what measures it devised in order to counter those threats. The course also contextualises these interpretations and foreign policy strategies with "traditional" US foreign policy and self-images in order to gain a broader understanding of how Americans interpreted their own role as global actor. In line with recent scholarship, the course also discusses in how far the Cold War intersected or conflicted with other important global developments in the 20th century, most notably the end of empires, decolonization, and Third World development. In order to analyse these questions, the course focuses on key primary sources and provides the opportunity to approach the subject through the lens of different sub-disciplines and methodologies, e.g. cultural and gender history
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) a 4,000 word essay (80%)
Non-written skills: presentation (10%) , contributions to in-class discussion- (10%)

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in discussions and the essay a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the United States' role in the Cold War
  2. Demonstrate in discussions and the essay an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning American responsibility and contributions to key Cold War crises, primary source materials concerning US perceptions and decision-making, and conceptual discussions about the importance of the Cold War and other developments as key constituents for the history of the second part of the 20th century
  3. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, presentations, and essays by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course
  4. Demonstrate in seminar discussions, presentations, and essays originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
Appy, Christian G., ed., Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000)

Dean, Robert D., Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001)

Dudziak, Mary L. Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011).

Gaddis, John Lewis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982)

Isaacson, Walter and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (London: Faber, 1986)

Kaplan, Lawrence. NATO and the United States: The Enduring Alliance. (New York and Oxford: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994)

Kunz, Diane, Butter and Guns: America's Cold War Economic Diplomacy (New York and London: Free Press, 1997).

LaFeber, Walter, America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2006 (10th edition; Boston, 2008)

Leffler, Melvyn and Odd Arne Westad, eds., The Cambridge History of the Cold War, 3 vols. (New York and London, 2010)

Latham, Robert, The Right Kind of Revolution: Modernization, Development, and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Cold War to the Present (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011)

Lundestad, Geir, The American 'Empire' and Other Studies of US Foreign Policy in Contemporary Perspective (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)

Suri, Jeremi, 'The Cold War, Decolonization, and Global Social Awakenings: Historical Intersections', Cold War History 6.3 (August 2006), 353-63
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course provides the ability to:

- demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the most important issues and themes connected to the United States during the Cold War;
- independently identify and pursue research topics surrounding the Cold War;
- exhibit an understanding for different conceptual approaches to the study of history;
- analyze and contextualize primary source material;
- arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework essay;
- demonstrate their skills in group discussion and oral presentations;
- demonstrate their written skills, their analytical and theoretical skills in coursework.
- prepare and present their work in seminars and workshops.
KeywordsUnited States Cold War
Course organiserDr Fabian Hilfrich
Tel: (0131 6)51 3236
Course secretaryMr George Bottrell-Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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