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Elective: The Global Cold War


Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


Although it ‘ended’ more than twenty years ago, the Cold War continues to influence the global political environment into the 21st century. The traditional Western perspective saw it as a struggle between the forces of freedom against those of tyranny, and the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered a strong sense of triumphalism for this reason. But the Cold War was more complex than this, and over the past twenty years different perspectives have been put forward to broaden the scope of interpretation beyond a simple East-West power struggle. The Cold War can be seen not just as an East-West but also a North-South contest. This course will address the Cold War as a multinational phenomenon, involving different actors with different interests and motives, to provide the students with a many-sided view of the conflict.

This course will enable students to examine and discuss
a) the ‘origins’ of the Cold War
b) the different interpretations of the Cold War
c) the impact of the Cold War around the globe
d) the ‘endings’ of the Cold War

Course materials will include primary documents and secondary literature. Part of the course will be focused on interpreting these primary documents and how they are ‘translated’ into history.

Additionally, the students will work through W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for the course: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 48 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 78 hours

  • Researching and writing final paper: 130 hours


11) 10%: Attendance/Participation
2) 25%: Written examination with closed and short open questions
3) 15%: Group Presentations (on specific topics)
4) 10%: Research Paper Proposal
5) 40%: Final Research Paper (5000 words, excluding tables and bibliography)


To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
To pass the course, the weighted average has to be 5.5 at least.


Resubmitting the final essay (insufficient grade only) will lead to a deduction of 1 point. The deadline for resubmission is 10 days after receiving the grade for the final essay.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

  • John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (New York: Penguin, 2007)

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, and J.M. Williams, The Craft of Research, The University of Chicago Press, London & Chicago, 2008.

Extra material taken from the following:

  • Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

  • Selected essays from Cambridge History of the Cold War (CHCW), 3 Vols.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


“Mr. Dr. D. Fazzi”:


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 9 June 2017.

Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar, elective year 3, and Practising Internatonal Studies.

The general aims of this course are threefold:
1) To cover the historical record on the Cold War and encourage the students to think critically about its main actors, events, and legacies
2) To provide guidance and allow space for the students to develop their own research project on a Cold War topic of their choice
3) To provide a basis for the research skills required for completing the BAIS thesis in the third year.

The unacknowledged reproduction of the work, words, or ideas of another person constitutes plagiarism (for faculty regulations, please see the onderwijs en examenregelingen).

All written pieces of work must be submitted via the Turnitin facility on the course’s Blackboard website. Failure to do so may result in a fail for that piece of work.

Make sure to always cite your sources. Always paraphrase, never just ‘copy’ or moderately edit original text. Any work found to be plagiarized or to contain plagiarism will receive, at the very least, a mark of zero, and you will fail the course. Please take this matter seriously; there are cases of this kind every year.