Britain’s Cold War

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
26 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Fighting the Cold War involved a variety of activities, which we will examine on the module: how the Cold War was understood as a conflict; diplomatic and political plans to tackles crises; the military need to provide a significant 'deterrent' to future war; and the mass mobilisation of the public opinion in favour of the conflict. We also examine opposition to the Cold War. Each seminar will focus on a key topic using primary sources to deepen our knowledge of these important events.

Britain faced an uncertain world after 1945. Successive governments sought to maintain the nation's global power in the face of economic decline, the end of empire, and the rise of the superpowers. At the same time, it took an active role in 'fighting' the Cold War, aiming to limit the influence of the Soviet Union and global communism.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with an in-depth understanding of the history of Britain’s Cold War.

  • To help students gain a deeper understanding of the different perspectives needed to account for political, social, and cultural change in a historical context.

  • To enhance students’ skills in sophisticated primary source analysis.

  • To enhance students’ skills in blending primary and secondary sources together to develop high quality analytical explanations.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Gain in-depth knowledge of the emerging history of Britain’s Cold War though engagement with primary sources.

  2. Understand and compare how historians have written about Britain’s Cold War.

  3. Develop links between different topics on the module.

  4. Learn to communicate historical ideas to different audience.

Module information


  • Module themes and introduction.

  • The Origins of the Cold War, 1945-48.

  • Crisis Year, 1948.

  • The War Against Peace: resisting the Soviet Union, 1948-53.

  • Britain and the Bomb.

  • Civil Defence and Nuclear War.

  • National Service and the everyday Cold War.

  • The Secret War: Espionage and counter-surveillance.

  • Anti-Communism.

  • Communists: For Peace and Socialism.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • Introductory lectures.
  • In-depth, source-based seminars.

All resources will be provided at the very beginning of the module to ensure that students who acquire adjustments can be accommodated.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Secondary source analysis (1500 words)  01/03/2024  50% 
Coursework   Primary source blog post and commentary (1500 words)  22/04/2024  50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Matthew Grant, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


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