World history since 1945 IR1034

This course is a study of human beings in time centred on the Cold War years.

It encompasses different human societies and the conflicts between and within them, all of which remain controversial. Given the global scope, it is often impossible to identify self-contained bodies of knowledge in a small number of key works or texts.

This course is constructed around a number of themes and topics which limit the extent of the courses’ coverage and make them more manageable for students even if acquiring more in-depth knowledge is an important aspect of historical learning.

Topics covered


  • The breakdown of the Grand Alliance
  • The German Question and the Marshall Plan
  • Rollback and ‘containment’.


  • Covert operations and propaganda
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Sino-Soviet split
  • Détente.


  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • The Middle East.


  • The end of Communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • The post-Cold War world.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Analyse the nature and significance of the Cold War international system
  • Explain how the Cold War originated and how and why it ended
  • Describe how Cold War international crises were perceived and responded to, particularly by the USA, in various parts of the world
  • Relate local and regional aspects of particular conflicts to the broader international aspects of the Cold War which influenced them
  • Analyse what influenced states and their rulers as they sought to expand their power and influence and deal with threats to their interests
  • Become aware of the elements of the Cold War international system that were connected to the post-Cold War era.


Unseen written exam (3 hr).

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.