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A History of Twentieth Century International Relations


Admission requirements

This course is part of the MA International Relations, track International Studies. Students of other MA-programmes can be admitted to this course as well, but please note that, in case of too many applications, students of International Studies get first choice.


This course presents an introduction to the history of international relations in the twentieth century. It will examine the major junctures in international relations from WWI up to the NATO interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo with a view to presenting students with a vision of how the international order changed and evolved through the development of international relations during this period. This course will take an expansive view of international relations, tracing the emergence of the major powers during WWI and WWII, the development of a bi-polar world order and the successive generation of a multi-lateral system comprising hegemonic powers with clashing ideals. The locus for the course will be an examination of how the conduct of diplomacy between nations, and often the collision of their visions for world order, often had an adverse effect on the stability of the international system. This will include episodes of international history which highlight the relations between not just the United States and Russia, but also particularly with European powers and African nations, taking a global context.

Course Objectives

This course is focused on teaching students to think critically about events, and understand the complexities of seemingly simple concepts like ‘foreign policy’. The aim is less to transmit knowledge than develop critical analysis faculties, and to encourage students to assess a situation objectively, form a considered opinion, and defend a position. In addition, students should be able to appraise and analyse secondary literature pertinent to each seminar topic from week to week and be able to think broadly about their position on the issue.


Via uSis and the website

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar.

Assessment Method

This course assessment will take four different forms:

  • Class attendance and participation 25%

  • Weekly Literature review 20%

  • Seminar Presentation 25%

  • Final Essay 30%


All required reading material will be available on Blackboard.

Reading list

Core Texts:

  • John Lewis Gaddis, Now We Know: Rethinking Cold War History (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

  • Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York: Random House, 1989)

  • William Keylor, The Twentieth Century World and Beyond: An International History since 1900 (6th revised edition., New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)

  • Edward H. Judge and John W. Langdon, eds., The Cold War: A History Through Documents (Custom Edition, Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012)

  • Marilyn B. Young, John J. Fitzgerald, and Tom Grunfeld, The Vietnam War: A History in Documents (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)


Via uSis.

Contact information

the coordinator of studies.