Accessibility statement

Decolonization, Internationalism & the Making of a New World Order after World War 2 - HIS00080C

« Back to module search

  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sanjoy Bhattacharya
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module examines the decolonisation that reshaped political maps from 1945 onwards and forged a new era of international relations. The seminars will adopt a consciously non Euro- and US-centric perspective, allowing students to study the many actors, voices, ideas and pressures that strengthened anti-imperial nationalisms, internationalist movements and new territorial nationalisms. The module will provide a decolonised and cutting-edge study of the roles played by actors from newly freed territories within international bodies like the United Nations (and its specialist agencies). Seminars will draw on examples from around the world, giving students the opportunity to develop expertise on particular countries whilst also taking a wider, multi-sited approach to understanding the making of a new world order.

Different concepts of imperialism, anti-imperialism, internationalism and non-alignment will be problematized, so that students can critically consider the many meanings and effects of these political projects. Seminars will explain how cooperation and competition between newly independent countries created international spaces that excluded western European imperial powers. In this way, the module will draw out the roles played by a number of little known (but, not unimportant) political organisations and cultural movements in promoting new developmental exchanges. The study of such joint diplomatic action, and its roles in forcing changes within United Nations governance, is a relatively unexplored field of historical enquiry. This module will encourage discussions about the research methodologies that makes such work possible, explain assumptions and subjectivities in older historiographies and describe many kinds of research materials.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To give an intensive introduction to an unfamiliar period and/or approach to the study of history;

  • To offer experience in the use of primary source materials;

  • To develop skills in analysing historiography; and

  • To develop core skills such as: bibliographical search techniques; source analysis; essay writing; giving presentations; and, undertaking independent research.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Acquire an insight into an unfamiliar period and/or approach to history through intensive study of an aspect of the period and/or an approach to it;

  • Gain experience of analysing primary source materials;

  • Be able to evaluate an historical explanation;

  • Have further developed work undertaken in the Autumn Term lecture courses and skills portfolios, including historical analysis, note-taking, using primary sources, presenting to groups, and leading discussions in seminars;

  • Be able to construct a coherent historical argument in oral and written forms

Module content

Teaching Programme:

Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over nine weeks, plus an overview and revision session in Week 2 of Summer Term. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion.

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

  1. General briefing

  2. Concepts of planned exit, disorderly retreat and much more

  3. World War 2 - The trigger for decolonisation?

  4. United Nations, anti-imperialism and decolonisation

  5. The Cold War: Manifestations and variations

  6. Allies at war: Strategic aftershocks post-World War 2

  7. The many guises of non-alignment

  8. New nationalisms and the remaking of empires

  9. The hidden voices of imperialism, internationalism and decolonisation


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
Open Exam - 24 hours
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work:

During the Spring Term students will prepare a presentation in pairs or small groups. Tutors will determine the formative work for the course: all groups will present on a primary source. Formative work will be completed in one or more sessions at the tutor’s discretion.

Summative assessment:

An open exam in the Common Assessment Period, comprising one essay question chosen from five options


Task Length % of module mark
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
Open Exam - 24 hours
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their discussion groups and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work with their tutor (or module convenor) during 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. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Should you wish to do any preliminary reading, you could look at the following:

Dora Vargha, Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary’s Cold War with an Epidemic, Cambridge University Press, 2018 (open access book here).

Paul Wenzel Geissler (ed.), Para-States and Medical Science: Making African Global Health, Duke University Press, 2015 (open access chapters here).

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.