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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2875 From Versailles to Potsdam: Conferences, Crises and Conflicts, 1919-45

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Rachel Lin

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module examines the relations between the Great Powers in the period from 1919 to 1945, and places particular emphasis on the nature and magnitude of the challenges posed to international society by the forces of nationalism, anti-colonialism, revisionism and ideology. It also examines the response of the so-called 'status quo' powers to external threats to their security and evaluates the role played in the international system by alliances and international organisations. The module begins with an assessment of the peace settlement that concluded the Great War; it proceeds to examine the rise of anti-colonial movements in the 1920s, the impact of radical ideologies on international relations in the 1930s, the rise of aggressive forces in Europe and the Far East, the erosion and eventual collapse of the peace settlement, the failure of collective security, the outbreak of war in the Far East in 1931 and in Europe in 1939; the merging of those conflicts into the Second World War; wartime developments and the onset of the Cold War; and how these conflicts are represented in public memory today.Content note: to cover the module content effectively it is necessary for us to read/look at/discuss material which addresses topics that may be challenging for you. These topics include: scenes of death and violence, including gender-based and sexual violence; racist and sexist views and language; and depictions of torture and emotional distress. The module tutor can provide more information on this if required.


The module will enable students to examine and understand the nature of relations between the Great Powers of Europe, Asia, the Far East and the American continent between 1919 and 1945; to understand and appreciate the interaction of European and extra-European developments, and their effect upon the foreign policies of the Great Powers; to develop knowledge and understanding of the nature and evolution of the international system between 1919 and 1945; to develop knowledge and understanding of the forces that shaped and impacted upon that system during the interwar years and the Second World War;
to examine and understand the processes of diplomacy and statecraft; to enhance understanding of the relationship between economic, military, strategic, ideological and political factors in the making of foreign policy; to examine the impact of the historical memory of the period 1919-1945; and to develop skills of historical enquiry, interpretation and synthesis.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to:

1) identify and evaluate the key debates concerning the evolution of the international system between 1919 and 1945;
2) demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the international relations of the interwar years, of the long and short term origins of the Second World War and of the course of that conflict.
3) demonstrate the ability to handle problems of change and continuity over time;
4) critically assess the scholarship on the period 1919-1945;
5) communicate ideas effectively and persuasively in writing.


The module may include the following indicative themes:

- Peacemaking in 1919-23 and the disintegration of the wartime alliance;
- Anti-colonialism, revisionism, security and disarmament in the 1920s;
- The international activities of the USA, the Soviet Union and Japan in the interwar years;
- The nature of the challenges posed to international society and the reactions produced by those challenges;
- The record of the League of Nations and the Comintern;
- The international crises of the later 1930s;
- The outbreak of war in the Far East and Europe;
- The regional and global dimensions of the Second World War;
- The Wartime diplomacy and post-war planning, including the origins of the UNO;
- The onset of the Cold War;
- The period 1919-1945 in public memory.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Pre-lecture reading; preparation for tutorials, assessed oral presentations and assessed written assignments;
- Preparation for the examination;
- Liaison/communication with other students in preparation for non-assessed group tasks in tutorials and assessed oral presentations.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminar discussion/non-assessed group work, for which feedback is provided;
- OTLA will follow the same format as end-of-semester essay;
- Advice, guidance and additional feedback as sought by students through attendance at weekly office hours.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 Words40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:41:10


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