AQA: A2 History – Unit 3 – Aspects of International Relations – 1945-2004

Unit 3: Aspects of International Relations, 1945–2004 HIS3N


This unit promotes an understanding of change and continuity over approximately 60 years. Through the study of key events in depth, such as the introduction of containment as the foundation of US foreign policy after 1947, candidates will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship of individuals, ideas and other factors and their relative importance to the processes of change and consolidation. Additionally, as a result of the study of the period as a whole, candidates will be able to demonstrate how issues, ideas and other factors changed during the period. The continuity of the Cold War within a framework of shifting intensity is particularly evident in this period of study. The impact of nuclear technology and economic strength are both primary elements in understanding the nature of international relations in the second half of the twentieth century and into the beginning of the 21st century. This unit enables students to understand the key forces which have driven international relations and will enable them to place future developments in a meaningful context.


The Emergence of the Superpowers, 1945–1962 • Yalta and Potsdam; the collapse of the Grand Alliance • Soviet expansionism in Eastern Europe, 1945–1949; the Warsaw Pact • US relations with Europe: containment; the Marshall Plan; Germany and NATO; the ‘special relationship’ with Britain and the USA’s status as an economic and military superpower • The role of Khrushchev and peaceful co-existence; the Geneva Summit, 1955; the problems over Berlin and Germany, 1958–1961 • The ‘bomb’ and the nuclear arms race up to 1962 From Cold War to Détente, 1962–1981 • The Cuban Missile crisis and its impact • Sino-American relations up to 1972 • Ostpolitik and the development of European détente; the Basic Treaty; the Helsinki Accords • SALT I and SALT II and strategic arms limitation in the 1970s • Détente under pressure; the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1970s; Angola; Afghanistan, 1979 The Final Years of the Cold War, 1981–1991 • The condition of the Soviet economy and its impact on the Cold War • Reagan and US militarism during the 1980s • Europe’s relationship with the USA • The impact of Gorbachev and the collapse of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe • The end of the Cold War Post-Cold War Relations, 1991–2004 • The collapse of Yugoslavia and growing Eastern European nationalism • Superpower responses to international aggression; Kuwait; the USA and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan • The further enlargement of the EU and political and economic integration and its impact on international relations • The role of the UN in a post-Cold War environment

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