The United States And The Outside World HIST4169

  • Academic Session: 2015-16
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The rise of American power, and its international application, has been the single greatest factor in determining the shape of the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. This course will examine how and why the United States has made the international choices that it has throughout this tumultuous period. Beginning with the earliest trends and developments in the history of American foreign relations, most of the course will focus on the period from the origins of the First World War to today.


The class will meet twice weekly. This is one of the honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses




Coursework - class essay (2,000 words) (20%)

Coursework - seminar presentation (6%) seminar contribution (4%)

Examination - 120 minutes duration (70%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims common to all History Honours 20 credit courses are as follows:

1. To prepare students for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including source materials, thereby developing intellectual skills that will be of benefit in a wide range of careers.

Students' research capacity will be enriched by their introduction to diverse source materials and their oral and written communication skills enhanced in ways designed to address employers' expectations for highly literate and highly articulate graduates who are fully cognisant of a range of research tools.

2. To show students how a professional historian works.

By supporting students in the production of their essay and seminar presentation, students will gain first hand experience of the scoping and shaping of research projects and the challenges faced by historians in the pursuit of advances in knowledge.

3. To familiarise students, through source-criticism, with a wide-range of problems of interpretation arising from different usages of language, underlying meanings and intentions, differing standards of objectivity, and the variety of purpose and intent associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other).

The critical interpretation of key historiographical and theoretical debates relating to this subject will inform the close reading of sources. Provenance, perspective, context, intent and audience will be core considerations in students' interpretation of sources.

4. To ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations is fully recognised. The seminars aim to encourage student-led learning and the facilitation of rigorous and informed debate.

5. To encourage students to develop imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research or in any sphere or employment where these qualities are valuable.

Students will be encouraged to reflect on the range of generic research and communication skills they are developing over the course of this course in order to align their academic and professional aspirations and competencies and encourage reflective practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate a knowledge of American Power in the 20th century
2. demonstrate the ability to discuss the origins of America's rise and the impact of the US upon the two world wars
3. demonstrate the ability to construct well-supported historical arguments by way of essays and seminar presentations
4. demonstrate the acquisition of certain transferable skills (oral, organisational and interpersonal skills) through participating in and chairing group discussions and making oral presentations to a group