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HIST6406: Britain and the Wider World, 1878-1982

Dr Chris Jeppesen

In the late nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth century, Britain was simultaneously a European, American, Asiatic and African power. The purpose of this course is to examine the ways in which British policy-makers manipulated their foreign and defence policies to maintain Britain’s overseas interests. The chronological period covered by the course includes the time when Britain was at the height of its global power and the period when its position was coming under so much stress that policy makers were compelled to shed an increasing proportion of their overseas commitments. The topics that will be examined will include: the composition and ideas of the policy-making elite in Britain; the influence of the Treasury – and more generally of economic constraints – on foreign and defence policy; the invasions of Afghanistan and Egypt in 1878 and 1882 and their significance; the government of the British empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the decision to rebuff German advances for an alliance but to negotiate an alliance with Japan and ententes with France and Russia at around the turn of the century; British defence policy and the decision to go to war in 1914; the development of war aims during the First World War; the problems facing the British when they tried to disengage from Europe in the 1920s; the Empire between the wars; rearmament and appeasement in the inter-war period; why Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939; British strategy and the politics of the Second Front; the impact of the world wars on Britain’s imperial relations; Britain and the origins of the Cold War; the process of decolonisation in Asia and Africa after 1945; the evolution of British defence policy between 1945 and 1982; the British decision to join the European Community.


Assessment methods

HIST6406: 2 X 2,500 word essays and a 3-hour examination

HIST6406A (Term 1 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays OR 1 X 5,000 word essay

HIST6406B (Term 2 Affiliate students only): 2 X 2,500 word essays

Page last modified on 03 apr 14 11:34 by Jasmine Gane