America's Two Quagmires: Vietnam and Iraq HIST5064

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will examine the political, social, and culture ramifications for American society of the Vietnam War and the post-9/11 Iraq War. The initial seminars will explore the key decisions and justifications that led the US to embark on war in Vietnam and Iraq respectively, before then analysing how each war was fought. The bulk of the course will then examine each war's political, cultural, and social effects on American society. From the experiences of veterans, explored through oral testimonies and memoir, to representations in literature, cinema, music, we will take a wide ranging look at how the conflict shaped the cultural and social landscape of the United States, both for those who fought, and those who witnessed the war through the media at home. Through a broad and wide-ranging base of primary sources, we will discuss the lasting impact of these troubled conflicts upon the history and identity of America, right up to the present day.


2hr seminars per week over 10 weeks.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





Essay (3,000 words) - 70%

Presentation (15 minutes) - 30%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Introduce students to the history of American involvement in Vietnam and Iraq.

■ Encourage students' understanding each war's legacy.

■ Offer the opportunity for students to develop interdisciplinary methodologies and techniques.

■ Introduce complex historical debates and interpretations, to develop skill in interpreting primary sources where appropriate

■ Encourage the development of transferable skills by fostering individual initiative, personal choice, group discussion and, where appropriate, problem-solving team work.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Explain the history of American involvement in Vietnam and Iraq.

■ Analyse American policies and experiences resulting from engagement in both countries;

■ Acquire an understand for how and why both wars had such a profound effect upon American society and culture, and what this reveals about the late twentieth century United States;

■ Navigate a variety of source materials (primary and secondary) on this subject in essays and seminar discussion.

■ Develop a broad range of communication skills, including debating, roleplay, presentation, and general class participation.

■ Exhibit an ability to conduct individual research online for relevant materials including: photographs, cartoons, film and television clips, music, or other relevant sources.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the courses summative assessment.