International Political Conflict: Cold Wars and Hot Wars from 1945 to the Present - 2017

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 2
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Assessment: Essay 1 (10%) , Essay 2 (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit was previously known as POIX279 International Relations.

This unit will investigate the origins, evolution and demise of the 'Cold War', largely through the prism of American-Soviet rivalry in the Third World: from the politics of containment and conflict during the 1950s and 1960s; to the rise and demise of superpower 'detente' in the 1970s; to a revival of superpower conflict during the Reagan era; to the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s and the return to the world of a single superpower (United States) in the 1990s. We will conclude by posing two broad questions: Why did the Cold War end and what effect, if any, has this development had on post-Cold War American policy toward the Third World to the present time. The case studies include the 1990-1991 Gulf War, Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By the end of the Study Period you should have a basic working knowledge of the origins and nature of the contemporary global crisis. Hopefully, the major learning outcome of this unit will be the development of critical analysis skills, independent judgements and improved written and oral communication skills.

At the completion of this unit:

  1. students will be conversant with the major events of international relations from the Cold War to the present, especially with regards to the US’s role.
  2. students will be able to analyse a primary document and explain how various factors (security, ideology, national politics, economics) must be taken into consideration in understanding it.
  3. students will be able to read specialist scholarly articles on international relations and understand the aim or thesis of the article, and be able to place it in an analytical tradition.
  4. students will be able to discuss international relations in the context of general trends and forces, military, national political, regional, economic, ideological.
  5. students will have a basic understanding of trends and forces in US activity in the Middle East.
  • Essay 1 (10%)
  • Essay 2 (40%)
  • Non-Invigilated Exam (40%)
  • Participation (10%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • PLTX279 — International Relations

Students should have studied some politics at 100 level prior to undertaking this unit. PLT120/POIX201 offers useful background for this unit.

This unit addresses the following topics.

2Origins of the Cold War: from Europe to the Third World
3Superpower Relations and the Third World [1950s]
4Superpower Relations and the Third World [1960s]
5Rise and Challenge of Superpower Detente [1969-1974]
6Unravelling of Superpower Detente: Angola and the Horn of Africa [1974-1978]
7Demise of Superpower Detente: Afghanistan [1979-1980]
8American and Soviet Policy toward the Third World [1980s]
9Post-Cold War American Policy toward the Third World: Bush I Doctrine, First Gulf War, Cuba
10Post-Cold War American Policy toward the Third World: Clinton Doctrine, Cuba
11Post-Cold War American Policy toward the Third World: Bush II Doctrine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba
12Post-Cold War American Policy: Obama Doctrine?

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is part of a major, minor, stream or specialisation in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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