This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buidlings from Leiden to The Hague takes about 45 minutes.
This lecture course introduces students to both an overview of the main historical developments in North America from 1945 to the present, and ways in which historical methods allow us to interpret the past in different ways. Attention will be given to both domestic and foreign policy to cover the major developments concerning the United States during the Cold War and beyond. Although Canada and Mexico will be discussed, the emphasis of the course falls upon the United States.
The course begins with an overview of some of the central themes that are present in any consideration of US history: Freedom, Manifest Destiny, and American Exceptionalism. The course is thereafter loosely framed around two themes which are used to consider different periods and events from the 1950s to the 2000s: Freedom and Fear. Freedom is widely seen as the defining character of American life – the wish, if not the right, to live as a free individual. Yet this is always closely associated with the fear that this freedom will be taken away by something (e.g. the government) or somebody (e.g. the communists). Freedom and Fear are therefore two defining features of American life, and they provide the basic structure for this course.
The student has:
- Acquired knowledge and understanding of history, its processes, structure, actors, factors and events and has familiarised him-/herself with the academic understanding of history and the history specific to the area, with an emphasis on the last two centuries.
Furthermore, the student has acquired a basic understanding of the theories used in the field of History and those with specific relevance to the Area History.
Finally the student has acquired the basic research skills, which he/she has put into practice for the first time in the shape of a small individual research project.
- Acquired knowledge and understanding of the concepts and conceptual structures relevant for the study of history from an area perspective, i.e. local, national, regional but also transnational and from a comparative, international and global perspective.
- A basic understanding of the methodologies used in the field of History. Both the methods and theories will be explained and activated through exercises based on the handbook common to all Area History courses and used for the overall History track in the programme. Robert Williams, The Historian's Toolbox; A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History will be the common frame of reference. The student will make a first attempt to put into practice one relevant method in an individual research project.
The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.
Mode of instruction
Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.
Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).
Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:
- Attending lectures: 24 hours
- Attending tutorials: 12 hours
- Assessment hours (midterm and final exam): 4 hours
- Study of compulsory literature: (approximately 7 pages per hour): 64 hours
- Time for completing assignments, preparing classes and exams: 36 hours
- Midterm exam:
Written examination with open questions.
- Final exam:
Written examination with open questions.
To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:
- The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of tutorial, midterm exam and final exam.
- The weighted average of the midterm exam and final exam needs to be 5.5 or higher.
If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), or the weighted average of midterm- and final exams is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier midterm and final exam grades. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the resit exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.
Retaking a passing grade
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.
How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.
- H.W. Brands, American Dreams: The United States since 1945 (2011)
The course broadly follows the chapters of this book. Together with the lectures, the book provides the material that will be tested for the exams.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis can be found here.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.