Accessibility statement

Making the Contemporary World: History, Politics and Ideas since 1945 - HIS00053M

« Back to module search

  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Mark Roodhouse
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module is co-convened by Dr Mark Roodhouse (from the Department of History) and Dr Alex Tebble (from the Department of Politics).

The MA Core module, The Making of the Contemporary World, provides an interdisciplinary grounding for the degree. A sweeping examination of the recent origins of our contemporary society since 1945, we look at the ways in which general trends and patterns of history have been reflected in the politics of states and societies across the globe, focusing in particular on the origins and growth of international norms and institutions, the changing nature of the world system and the impact of transnational ideas and movements on world history.

We will analyse and contextualise concepts such as liberalism, democracy, nation and race; and processes such as imperialism, decolonization, globalization and revolution. We will also look at the evolution of human rights, the emergence of new ideas about how to manage the economy and the turn to humanitarian intervention. Each week we will discuss the key developments of a specific period combined with close examination of one or two texts by an influential thinker of the time.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to explore ideas and institutions which have shaped international and transnational politics since the end of the Second World War. Drawing on influential works of contemporary thought and a wide range of historical scholarship, students will evaluate the emergence, evolution and effects of recent and current political trends of global significance.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully should:

  • appreciate and evaluate the diverse range of historical contexts in which such political ideas emerged and were used - examples will be drawn from across the globe. Particular focus will be on the processes by which political ideas have been transferred across national boundaries.
  • explain and illustrate the theoretical principles behind new forms of global politics - these will include examining international organisations (such as the United Nations); international law; social networks; and non-government organisations operating at a transnational level.
  • evaluate how particular transnational institutions have worked at international, national and local levels.
  • select, assess and apply primary and secondary material effectively and critically to their discussion and analysis of contemporary political ideas and institutions.
  • formulate coherent arguments, securely based in the primary and secondary literature.
  • present their ideas lucidly and coherently both orally and on paper.

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.

Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:

  1. Global Government, Human Rights and the Post War Order

  2. Decolonization and the Coming Global Cold War

  3. Social Democracy, Labour and the Working Class in the Global North

  4. A New Society?

  5. Neoliberalism: Reaction or Revolution?

  6. Globalization and the “End of History”

  7. Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect

  8. The 2008 Financial Crisis and the Return of History


Task Length % of module mark
4,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000 word essay for formative assessment, due in week 6, for which they will receive an individual tutorial.

Students taking the module as a core module will submit a 4,000 word assessed essay in week 10 of the autumn term. For those taking the module as an option module, a 4,000 word assessed essay will be due in week 2 of the spring term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.


Task Length % of module mark
4,000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. They will also receive verbal feedback at an individual tutorial. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. Supervisors are available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment for Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
Hopkins, A.G. ed., Globalisation in History. London: Pimlico, 2002.
Odd Arne Westad. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Suri, Jeremy. Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.