The Rise of the United States Since 1880 - HI391

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5)







The module will introduce the students to the history of the U.S during its dramatic rise to industrial and international power. Beginning with the transformation of the U.S into an urban industrial civilisation at the end of the 19th Century, it ends with a review of the American position at the beginning of the 21st century.

Themes include early 20th century reform, the rise to world power by 1918, prosperity and the Depression, the New Deal, war and Cold War, race relations, Vietnam, supposed decline and resurgence from Nixon to Reagan, the end of the Cold War, and the Clinton Administration.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week. There will be one writing week and one week devoted to individual essay return.

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by 50% coursework and 50% examination.

The coursework element will include:

- Two essays (1500 words each – each worth 40% of the coursework mark). Through the essay, students learn to research a subject and to formulate and present their own opinions.
- Participation in seminars (20% of the overall mark). The criteria used to arrive at this mark will be based on the level of engagement with the seminar readings and with one another's responses and opinions displayed in seminars.

The examination will be taken during the Summer term, and will take the form of one 2-hour paper, during which students will answer two essay-style questions selected from a list of between eight and twelve questions.

Indicative reading

HOFFMAN & GJERDE (eds.) - 'Major Problems in American History' Vol. II
CHAFE & SITKOFF (eds.) - ' History of Our Time'.
AMBROSE & BRINKLEY - 'America’s Rise to World Power'
BADGER, A.J. - 'The New Deal'
JONES, M. - 'The Limits of Liberty'
BRODY, D. - 'American Workers in the 20th Century' Vol. I

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes

Through the study of this module, students will:

- Develop the ability to pursue different kinds of history and bring them together in the context of the industrial, interwar, and modern periods of American history.
- Develop their skills in interpreting texts and other source materials, particularly in relation to race, world war, economic hegemony, foreign policy, environmental history, and cultural revolutions.
- Identify, explore, and evaluate the significance of key conceptualisations in US history such as 'McCarthyism', 'isolationism' , 'red peril', 'neo-conservatism', and 'War on Terror'.
- Develop their essay writing and oral presentation skills and learn how to make good use of the relevant library resources and to illustrate their argument using a range of primary sources in US history.


The intended generic learning outcomes

Through the study of this module, students will:

- Be encouraged to consider critically relevant intellectual concepts as well as differences of opinion and interpretation both amongst historians, and they will also be encouraged to develop their ability to identify and solve problems
- Be required to work both independently and within groups. Students will engage in independent work, using library resources, and will practice and improve their skills in time management, historical research, organisation and analysis of material, oral presentations and essay-writing.
- Engage in group work, in which they will be encouraged to interact effectively with others and to work co-operatively to enhance one another's learning.
- Acquire the skill to communicate complex concepts effectively through written work. They will acquire the ability to further develop skills they have already gained, which will be of use to them in future study or occupations.
- Improve their communication skills and skills with IT.
- Acquire the skill to present information creatively and accessibly.

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