2K International Relations and Global Conflict, c1890–1941

This option provides for the study in depth of a period in which political ambitions and rivalries between nations plunged the world into major wars. It develops concepts such as nationalism, militarism and the balance of power and encourages students to reflect on the causes of war and what makes international diplomacy succeed or fail.

Part one: Great Power rivalries and entry into war, c1890–1917

Great Powers: Britain, Germany, France, Russia and Austria-Hungary, c1890–1900

  • The political structures of the Great Powers: liberal democracies in Britain and France and autocracies in Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary; the effect of political structures on decision-making
  • Economic strengths and armed forces: the erosion of Britain’s economic supremacy; the rise of the German economy; economic reform in Russia; the relative strengths of the armed forces of the Great Powers
  • Empires and rivalries: the ‘Scramble for Africa’; Russo-Austro-Hungarian rivalry in the Balkans; Russia and the Ottoman Empire
  • The state of international relations by 1900: Anglo-French rivalry; Anglo-German relations; the Franco-Russian alliance; Germany’s Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary; potential for conflict

The Great Powers and Crises, 1900–1911

  • Forces of instability: Balkan nationalism and its significance for Austria-Hungary and Russia; militarism and the position of the German army in the Second Reich; the arms and naval races; military plans
  • Evolving alliances: the Moroccan crises; Anglo-French Entente; the formation of the Triple Entente
  • The decline of the Ottoman Empire: the weakening of the Empire in Eastern Europe; the causes and consequences of the Young Turk Movement
  • Panslavism and the Bosnian Crisis: the causes, course and consequences of the Bosnian Crisis

The coming of war, 1911–1917

  • The First and Second Balkan Wars: causes; attempts by the Great Powers to impose peace on the region; the impact of the Balkan Wars on the Great Powers and Serbia
  • The outbreak of war in the Balkans and the July Crisis: Austria-Hungary’s and Germany’s response to the assassination in Sarajevo; Russia's response to Austria-Hungary’s demands on Serbia; the bombardment of Belgrade
  • General war in Europe: mobilisation of German and Russian forces; the implementation of the Schlieffen Plan and the invasion of Belgium; Britain’s declaration of war; the key decision makers and their motives
  • From European to World War: the escalation of the conflict; Italy’s motives for war; reasons for the entry of the USA

Part two: The failure of international peace and the origins of the Second World War, 1917–1941 (A-level only)

The end of the First World War and the peace settlement, 1917–1923 (A-level only)

  • The collapse of the autocratic empires: Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire; nationalist ambitions and the impact on international relations and peace-making
  • Peace-making, 1919–1923: the roles and aims of Clemenceau, Wilson and Lloyd George; the Treaty of Versailles; the East and Southern European settlements and the settlement with Turkey
  • Challenges to the peace settlement: the consequences of the USA’s return to isolationism and the League of Nations; the responses to the post-war settlement in France, Britain and Germany
  • The state of international relations by 1923: the position of the USA and Russia in world affairs; continuing border disputes; the occupation of the Ruhr and its consequences

Attempts at maintaining the peace, 1923–1935 (A-level only)

  • The ‘Spirit of Locarno’: consolidation of the post-war settlement; attempts at disarmament and conciliation in international relations, including the Dawes Plan, the Geneva Protocol and the Kellogg-Briand Pact
  • The Depression and its impact on international relations: the failures of the Lausanne and London Conferences on international debts and reparations
  • Changing balance of power: the ambitions of Italy, Japan and Germany
  • The collapse of collective security: the reasons for and consequences of the failure of League of Nations in the Manchurian and Abyssinian Crises

The coming of war, 1935–1941 (A-level only)

  • Germany’s challenges to the Treaty of Versailles: the aims and actions of Hitler
  • The international response to German, Italian and Japanese aggression: the Rhineland Crisis; the Anschluss; the Spanish Civil War; Italy and Albania; war in China; alliances amongst the aggressors
  • The outbreak of war in Europe: appeasement; the Czech Crisis; the crisis over Poland and the Nazi-Soviet Pact; the outbreak of war; the reaction of Italy to the outbreak of war
  • From Western European to World War: the reasons for the escalation to world war; the entry of the Soviet Union; Japan, Pearl Harbor and the entry of the USA