The Rise of the United States Since 1880 - HI391

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 4 15 (7.5) DR J Wills checkmark-circle


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 the following module collections.

Contact hours

This module will be taught through one 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week, with the exception of Enhancement Week and one week that will be dedicated to coursework feedback.

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by:

- Essay 1 (1,500 words) - 20%
- Essay 2 (1,500 words) - 20%
- Seminar Participation - 10%
- Examination - 50%

Indicative reading

AMBROSE & BRINKLEY. (2012) Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938'. London: Penguin
BADGER, A.J. (2007) The New Deal. Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press
BRODY, D. (1993) Workers in Industrial America: Essays on the Twentieth-Century Struggle. New York: Oxford University Press
CHAFE & SITKOFF (eds.) (2011) History of Our Time. New York: Oxford University Press
HOFFMAN & GJERDE (eds.) (2006) Major Problems in American History Vol. II. Boston: Cengage
JONES, M. (1998) The Limits of Liberty. Oxford: Oxford University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able to:

- Demonstrate 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.
- Demonstrate 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'.
- Demonstrate essay writing and oral presentation skills, and 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 of this module are that, on completion of this module, students will be able 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
- 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 cooperatively to enhance one another's learning.
- 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.
- Demonstrate communication skills and skills with IT.
- Present information creatively and accessibly.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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