Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

The Wars of Decolonization and the Making of the Global Cold War HIST5125

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • 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
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course explores the nature and impact of some of the defining colonial conflicts of the post-World War II era ranging from the first Indochina war to Portugal¹s wars of decolonization in Angola and Mozambique. Drawing on pertinent literature from the fields of strategic studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, and intelligence and security studies, students will examine the causes, conduct, and consequences of late colonial conflicts both in theory and in practice, situating these within a wider regional and international framework.


One two-hour meeting per week for ten weeks.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





One essay of 3,500 words (75%); one 15-minute presentation (25%) (content equivalent to 1500-word essay).

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explore the history of population displacement and mass statelessness worldwide in the period since 1900

■ Engage with debates in history and related disciplines on the meaning of statelessness and on the relationship between population displacement and other global historical phenomena including conflict, nationalism, state formation, and the development of international institutions.

■ Engage with problems of source survival and state-centric perspectives in the study of refugees and statelessness.

■ Develop advanced skills in the formulation of research questions, pursuit of independent research, and critical reading of secondary (and some primary) sources.

■ Develop advanced skills in the formation and effective expression of well-supported oral and written arguments.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Make analytical comparisons across a range of cases to demonstrate an understanding of the place of refugees and statelessness as both an outcome and driver of broader global changes in twentieth-century history

■ Identify the problems inherent in recovering the experiences of refugees and stateless persons from primary sources which are predominantly state-centric, and evaluate how historians have tried to overcome them.

■ Apply theoretical and methodological insights from different social-science disciplines to the study of refugees and statelessness in modern history.

■ Identify an original research question and produce a convincing written argument informed by the analytical and historiographical literature.

■ Pursue a research question, draw independent conclusions and present these through effective oral communication.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

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