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Unit information: Britain's Cold War (Level C Special Topic) in 2015/16

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Unit name Britain's Cold War (Level C Special Topic)
Unit code HIST14018
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Grace Huxford
Open unit status Not open



HIST13003 Special Topic Project

School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

For four decades Britain faced the prospect of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In 1953, UK defence planning assumed such an exchange would result in 1.4 million deaths and three-quarters of a million casualties. Within a year, the Soviet development of the hydrogen bomb vastly increased these figures. Planners estimated a death toll of 12 million in 10 selected cities and assumed that British society would 'break down' as a result. Almost as soon as it was over, however, the Cold War seems to have evaporated from popular memory. Using a wide range of primary sources, many recently released, this special topic sets out to explore this increasingly forgotten episode in British history. Focusing on the first half of the Cold War, it provides an introduction to its military and political dimensions whilst also considering its social and cultural impact on the lives of contemporary Britons.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will have developed:

  1. an understanding of Britain’s experiences during the Cold War
  2. the ability to describe, analyse and evaluate the impact of this period on British society and citizens
  3. the capacity to interpret, and respond critically to, historians’ assessments of this period of British history
  4. the ability to develop independent responses to this material, and to communicate this effectively in writing

Teaching Information

10 x 2- hour seminars

Assessment Information

1 x 2-hour exam

Reading and References

Arnold, L. Britain and the H-Bomb

Black, J. (2000) The politics of James Bond

Clarke, B. (2005) Four minute warning

Gaddis, J. L. (2006) Cold War

Grant, M. (2010), After the bomb: civil defence and nuclear war in Britain, 1945-68.

Greenwood, S. (2000) Britain and the Cold War, 1945-91

Hennessy, P. (2003 or 2010) The secret state

Hennessy, P. (2007) Cabinets and the Bomb

Hopkins, M. F. et al (2006) Cold War Britain 1945-1964

McMahon, R. J. (2003) The Cold War: a very short introduction

Nuttall, J. (1968) Bomb culture

Saunders, F. S. (1999) Who paid the piper? The CIA and the cultural Cold War

Shaw, T. (2001) British cinema and the Cold War

Various (2005) special issue on Britain and the cultural cold war, Contemporary British History, vol. 19, no. 2,