Module Identifier IP36220  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Mr James R Vaughan  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Lecture   18 Hours. 18 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   5 Hours. (5 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  70%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 2,000 words  30%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module. For further clarification please contact the Academic Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
-the nature of the structural shifts in the balance of power, and their relationship to the two World Wars
-the reasons why the eventual Superpowers played a relatively marginal role during the inter-war period
-why a durable peace was not established after 1919
-the impact of ideologies (liberal capitalism, revolutionary socialism, nazism/fascism, nationalism and self-determination) on the theory and practice of international relations
-the importance for international relations of the experience of the 1930s both in shaping Keynesian-welfare states, and in developing new ideas about international economic management
-the final demise of empire in the face of ideological change, European weakness and colonial resistance
-the extent to which 1945 was itself a radical turning point, or merely a symptom of the profound changes that had already taken place across the preceding half century

Brief description

The module provides a frame of reference for understanding international relations in the twentieth century by exploring developments in the balance of power, ideas of international order, socio-economic change and tensions within the European empires up to 1945.


The aim of the module is to provide a structured intepretation of the first half of the twentieth century to enable students to relate it to developments after 1945. Many candidates will already have taken the International History courses, covering the period since 1945. This module develops the background to these by offering a frame of reference within which to locate the genesis of the international situation in 1945. Such a scheme will enable students to analyse the key thematic developments in the period to 1945, but will also enhance their ability to make connections between developments in twentieth-century international history as a whole.


The module opens with an analysis of the shifts in the balance of power within Europe, as well as the emergence of new extra-European powers. This, in turn, is related to new ideas about the management of the international order, exemplified in the New Diplomacy at the end of World War I. It then explores the crisis of domestic order generated by the economic and social upheavals of industrialisation, culminating in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Finally, the module locates the final phase of the European empires, and the tensions developing within them, in the context of these other developments.

Transferable skills

Students will develop, practice and test a range of transferable skills. Throughout, students will be required to practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills. In lectures students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars, students will participate in delivery of group presentations that will develop team working. These also foster listening, explaining and debating skills. Essay writing demands development of skills in independent research, writing and IT, and the examination will test skills of succinct and focussed writing, as well as clear organization of thought, under time constraint conditions.

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Bartlett, C.J. (1994) The Global Conflict. The International Rivalry of the Great Powers, 1880-1990 2nd edition. Longman
Hobsbawm, Eric (1994) The Age of Extremes Abacus
Keylor, William (2001) The Twentieth Century World 4th edition. Oxford University Press
Marks, Sally (2002) The Ebbing of European Ascendancy Arnold
Overy, Richard J. (1994) The Inter-War Crisis, 1919-1939 Longman
Ross, Graham (1983) The Great Powers and the Decline of the European State System, 1914-1945 Longman
Steiner, Zara (2005) The Lights That Failed. European International History 1919-1933 Oxford University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6