Module Identifier IPM0830  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Mr James R Vaughan  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   22 Hours 1 x 2 hour seminar  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  40%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
By the end of this course students will:

Brief description

The module examines some of the key historiographical debates about the second half of the twentieth century, and looks in depth at some of the sources that have been central to these debates.


The main aim of this module is to provide specialised training in historiographical trends, and in the use of historical sources. It examines the relationship between the historian and the writing of history by concentrating upon some of the most contentious historiographical debates of the first half of the twentieth century. While each of the seminars is self-standing, common themes will emerge in each: the impact of total war upon the course of twentieth century history; the role of historical sources and the meaning of historical 'facts'; the relationship between the international and the national; the role of structure and the impact of the individual in history; and finally, the relevance of looking at history from above and below.

The course aims to provide specialised training in the critical use of various kinds of historical source materials. These will be broadly conceived and will include: archival sources; memoir literature; oral history and transcripts; film, literature, and other media; and quantitative social and economic data.


The course begins with an overview of how issues within historical method impinge on the study of international history specifically. Thereafter, it reviews a number of critical debates, including the origins of the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, the Middle East in the Cold War, the end of the Cold War and September 11. Topics are discussed in pairs, and in the second of each pair the focus is upon a set of sources relevant to that topic.

Transferable skills

Throughout the course, students will practise and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self-management skills. In seminars, students will enhance listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as oral presentational skills. Essay writing will encourage students to practise independent research skills, including data collection and retrieval, writing, IT and time management. The examination tests these skills under time constraint conditions.

15 ECTS Credits

Reading Lists

C Elman and MF Elman (Eds) (2001) Bridges and Boundaries: Historians, Political Scientists and the Study of International Relations Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press
D Reynolds (2000) One World Divisible London: Penguin
AO Westad (ed) (2000) Reviewing the Cold War London: CASS


This module is at CQFW Level 7