Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Expansion, intervention and influence: The United States as a continental power
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 5 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 18 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%
Semester Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 2,500 word written essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of a substantial body of historical literature in the field of US territorial expansion and hemispheric relations.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which the United States has interacted with other governments and peoples in the hemisphere and the short-, medium-, and long-term impacts of such interactions.
3. Read, analyse and reflect critically on selected secondary and primary texts.
4. Demonstrate an ability to evaluate critically the strengths and weaknesses of particular historical arguments.


Territorial expansion at the expense of native peoples and neighbouring states is an important aspect of the historical development of the United States in the first century of its existence as a nation. The module combines a study of this phenomenon with the detailed analysis of the United States as regional hegemon from the late 19th century onward, examining the causes and consequences of Washington’s interactions with its hemispheric neighbours. In particular, it will investigate the impact of the Cold War on Latin America and the Caribbean, drawing upon a voluminous secondary literature and a rich selection of primary sources written from a variety of different perspectives.

Brief description

This module begins in 1800, when the United States was already beginning to expand across the North American continent, and ends in the post-Cold War period. The focus in the early part of the module is on US territorial expansion, including conflict with Native Americans, while in the later part of the module the focus switches to US relations with its neighbours in the Western Hemisphere before, during and after the Cold War.


1. Territorial expansion in the early Republic
2. The Monroe Doctrine
3. Indian Removal
4. The Mexican-American War
5. The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire
6. Interventions and Occupations
7. Panamanian secession and the construction of the Panama Canal
8. The Good Neighbor Policy
9. Anti-Communism and anti-Americanism in the 1950s
10. The Cuban Revolution and the US Response
11. The Alliance for Progress
12. The Dominican Republic Intervention
13. The Chilean Coup
14. The Carter administration’s approach to Latin America
15. The Sandinista Revolution and the Reagan crusade
16. The War on Drugs
17. Migration
18. Globalization and the Free Trade agenda

1. ‘Manifest Destiny’
2. Race and culture
3. Latin America and the Caribbean’s love-hate relationship with Uncle Sam
4. The Cold War prism
5. Covert action, counter-insurgency and freedom fighters
6. Cold War no more?

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Some of the material covered by the module involves the use of statistics, and students will develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of official data on, for example, migration to the United States. The treatment of such material in written work will be assessed as part of the broader piece of work in which it appears, where applicable.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop their understanding of theories of international relations and the relationship between the prevailing global power structure and regional interactions.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6