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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3888 The Global Vietnam War

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Sean Fear

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

From the Second World War to Vietnam's withdrawal from Cambodia in 1989, a series of multifaceted and interconnected conflicts gripped the Indochina peninsula. During this time-span, the wars in Vietnam evolved from anti-colonial struggle to superpower confrontation, and were central to the decades-long global encounter known as the Cold War. As the struggle for Vietnam grew in intensity and complexity, it took on increasingly global implications, drawing in a diverse range of rival states, citizens' movements, and other non-state actors whose interpretations and responses to the war were conditioned by a variety of competing local agendas.This module will consider a number of critical historiographical questions, including: What were the Vietnamese, Lao, and Cambodian origins of the conflict? How and why did anti-colonial Vietnamese become so divided? Why did Cold War superpowers commit so much to a small, distant country? What role did the larger Cold War play in shaping overseas powers' decision-making? What was the impact of each party's respective domestic politics? How and why did the conflict end the way it did? And what are the global legacies of the war?The module will consider the Vietnam War as first and foremost a Vietnamese conflict, one which acquired increasingly global significance. In addition to exploring the domestic causes and dynamics of the Vietnam War, we will also consider the conflict - a seminal episode in the global Cold War - as a lens for analyzing a wide range of international events and trends. These include Empire and Decolonization; the Non-Aligned Movement; the Chinese Civil War; the American "Red Scare"; the Korean War; Development and Modernization Theory; the Sino-Soviet Split; China's Cultural Revolution; Detente; the rise of American Conservatism; the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Genocide; and the origins of ongoing strategic tensions in the South China Sea. Content note: to discuss these themes effectively the module engages with some sensitive issues, including gender violence and racist language. The module tutor can provide more information on this if required.


- To identify the principal causes of the Vietnam War
- To explore the factors prompting global powers to intervene, including the United States, France, the Soviet Union, South Korea, China, and Cambodia.
- To assess the global impact of the Vietnam War
- To engage with a range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks for understanding the war
- To evaluate important methodological and historiographical trends relating to the conflict

Learning outcomes
Learning Objectives
- Analyse a range of relevant primary and secondary sources.
- Apply the skills acquired in formulating nuanced and sophisticated arguments supported by historical evidence
- Apply transferable skills including effective written and oral communication, time management, and project management and completion, among others.
- Demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skill, and the ability to articulate complex ideas and interpretations verbally and in writing.
- Evaluate the interplay between domestic politics and foreign affairs in a wide range of global contexts.


Topics may include Vietnamese Anti-Colonialism; Origins of the Cold War; Modernization and Counterinsurgency Theories; Vietnam and the Sino-Soviet Split; Pro- and Anti-War Movements; Southeast Asia and the Vietnam War; Détente and Denouement; Aftermaths and Legacies.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours352.00
Total Contact hours48.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

• Reading to prepare for seminars (120 hours)
• Further self-directed reading (66 hours)
• Preparing and producing the 4,000-word essay, including formative elements (80 hours)
• Researching and producing the OTA, including formative elments (80 hours)
• Reflection on feedback (6 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

In additional to the weekly seminar, and office hours and tutorials, students will have the opportunity to discuss their essay plan with the module tutor and the opportunity to receive feedback on draft gobbet answers and essay plans before the OTA.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

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 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

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 14:41:13


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