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US History since 1877 HI2013-05

This course provides an examination of US history since 1877.

This course examines foreign policy, politics, society and culture. It looks in detail at Post-Reconstruction America, the Progressive Era, World War I, the 1920s, the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, the resurgence of the right since the 1960s and contemporary America.


30 Credits

Topics covered

  • Reconstruction & Race relations in the US post 1877
  • Separate and unequal: Race Relations post 1877
  • Progressivism and the First World War
  • The United States and the First World War
  • The 1920s, the Great Depression & New Deal, 1920-1941
  • Critiquing the US racial hierarchy: Marcus Garvey and the UNIA
  • The US and the Second World War
  • The US economy after the War
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Martin Luther King's role in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Nation of Islam (1930-1975)
  • Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad
  • Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society
  • Poverty and the Great Society
  • The Resurgence of the Right
  • The Rise of the Religious Right
  • The US and the War on Terror
  • US Foreign Policy under George Bush: The Bush Doctrine
  • Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign
  • Jeremiah Wright and the Obama Controversy.

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand major developments in US social, economic and political history in the twentieth-century.     
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon the main historiographical debates relating to the topics covered in the module.
  • Engage with a variety of primary and secondary sources.
  • Describe the changing nature of US history throughout the twentieth century.
  • Understand the effect and implications of the 1896 Plessy v Ferguson ruling.
  • Understand the impact that the First World War had on all sections of US society.
  • Examine the causes and effects of the Great Depression and the Second World War’s impact on the US economy.
  • Describe the emergence, maturity and decline of various Civil Rights and Black Nationalist groups in the twentieth century.
  • Understand the role that race and religion continue to play in presidential campaigns.
  • Critique the emergence of the religious right and examine their influence on recent presidential campaigns.
  • Understand and critique US involvement in the War on Terror.
  • Understand the Obama post-racial campaign model and critique theories of post-racialism.


  • Exam (80%)
  • Essay (10%)
  • Reflective journal and forum posts (10%)

Essential reading

  • Eric Foner: "Give me Liberty: An American history" (W. W. Norton & Co.; 2Rev Ed edition (31 Oct 2008)     
  • Tindall & Shi, "America: A Narrative History" (W. W. Norton & Co.; Abridged ed of 4 Revised ed edition 1997)
  • Manning Marable, Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America (University Press of Mississippi, 1984)
  • Cook, Robert, Sweet Land of Liberty? The African-American Struggle for Civil Rights in the Twentieth Century (London: Longman, 1998).