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Year 12: Term 2 (IA3): Cold War

Term 2: Cold War

Term 2 IA3: Cold War

Possible Topics to Choose Relating to the Cold War and Impact on a Particular Country

Some suggested topics:

  • Germany (might include Berlin Airlift / Blockade, 1949, division between West and East Germany, Marshall plan in West Germany), Berlin Wall 1961
  • Korean Peninsula (Korean War and beyond)
  • USA - ‘McCarthyism’
  • USA – role of the CIA
  • USSR – role of the KGB
  • Hungary Crisis 1956
  • Czech Crisis 1968
  • Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, also maybe focus on Fidel Castro, or Che Guevera)
  • USA (Reagan)
  • USSR (Gorbachev – ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’)
  • Soviet Union (aka USSR) The break-up of the USSR and ‘finish’ of Communism there - 1989-1991
  • Yugoslavia (including  leadership of Tito)
  • The Cold War in Australia (including the Petrov Affair, and attempt to ban the Communist Party)
  • Historiography of the Cold War – should apply to all topics
  • The Cold War in Central and South America e.g. Chile
  • The Suez Crisis (Egypt, Israel, UK, France, USA, USSR)
  • China and the Cold War
  • Iran and the Cold War
  • Afghanistan (Soviet invasion)

This list is not exhaustive; you may suggest a different topic if your teacher approves.

Vietnam has been excluded from these suggestions, as it is our external exam topic, and will be studied in detail after completion of the IA3.

Useful Websites


BBC: Cold War

History learning site UK: What Was the Cold War?

The Cold War Museum

United Kingdom Government National Archive

Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy: The Cold War

Wilson Centre Origins of the Cold War Documents
This collection of primary source documents discusses international relations during World War II and the years shortly after.

Washington State Uni: Modern China

George Washington Uni: China and the United States - From Hostility to Engagement

China's Role During the Cold War

Cold War Museum
Scroll down to 'Berlin Blockade' and 'Berlin Airlift'

The Cold War Museum: Berlin Blockade

Harry S. Trueman Library: Berlin Blockade

John D. Berlin Blockade Berlin Blockade

Military History: The Berlin Blockade

KOREAN WAR, 1950-1953
John D. Korean War

Naval History & Heritage: Korean War

Infoplease: Korean War

Spartacus: Korean War

ThinkQuest: Korean War-The Forgotten War

Global Security: Korean War

US Army Military History: Korean War

BBC: The Korean War - An Overview

Guide to Cuban Missile Crisis

ThinkQuest: Cuban Missile Crisis

BBC History: JFK & the Cuban Missile Crisis

History and Politics Out Loud: Cuban Missile Crisis

George Washington Uni: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

Cuban Missile Crisis: Primary Sources

Naval Historical Center: Cuban Missile Crisis

Global Cuban Missile Crisis

National Air and Space Museum: Space Race

The Space Race

NASA: Sputnik and the Dawn of the Space Race

Vibration Data: Cold War and the Space Race Era

Video: Overview of the Cold War

Zoter0 - Online Referencing Tool

Zotero can be set to the same Harvard AGPS (Australia) style that CiteAce uses, called 'Melbourne Polytechnic - Harvard'. Please read the instructions carefully.

Any issues - see your Library Staff

Possible Key Questions and Sub-Questions

Key QuestionWhy could it be said that Germany was the epicentre for all the tensions between democracy and communism, especially during the early period of the Cold War era? Look at this website

Hypothesis: Germany became the epicentre of post-war heightened tensions between the US and USSR which intensified into the Cold War, and also the symbolic site of its conclusion many decades later in 1991 as the Berlin Wall fell.


1. What was the Berlin Blockade / Airlift of 1949, and why was it important in poisoning the relationship between the US and Sovet Union?

2. How was the division of Germany achieved, and what were its long-term consequences for the Cold War?

3. What was the Marshall Plan (1948), how did it impact Germany, and why and how did it affect US-Soviet relations in the Cold War? Look at this website   and also this website.

4. Why was the Berlin Wall built in 1961, and what impact did it have on the Cold War?

The Korean War
Key Question: In what ways was the Korean War a significant conflict in the Cold War and a prototype for many modern international conflicts involving the super powers?


  1. Why and how was it a conflict of ideologies (Communism vs Capitalism)
  2. How did the Korean War mark a shift in the focal point in the development of international tensions? (from Europe: Berlin, East Germany, annexation of Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania + Moldova -  to East Asia)
  3. Why and how was the Korean War one of the first ‘proxy’ wars – ie. A major war fought between the United States and a Soviet communist-supported enemy. A proxy war occurs when one or more opposing powers instigates a war and then uses third parties to fight on their behalf.
  4. How was the Korean War a prototype for US-involved wars in the last 70 years? See HERE.
  5. What is the continuing legacy of this war in today’s world? (North and South Korea – the Cold War has never ended for North Korea).

Possible Hypothesis and Signposting:

The Korean War demonstrated a significant shift and intensification of Cold War tensions which had enormous consequences and a profound and enduring impact on international relations. Where previously the Cold War conflicts had been totally focussed on Europe, the Korean War demonstrated that the battle over ideological differences had spread to Asia and inevitably to the world stage; it began the policy of ‘proxy wars’ in a third country that was to become a feature of other Cold War conflicts; and its effects continue to be felt 70 years later.


Hypothesis: Fidel Castro used his powerful Communist-brotherhood connections to deftly manipulate the opportunities afforded him, and to provoke and defy the United States.


The ENTIRE collection of resources provided by the BBC Library can be searched on ONE single, powerful search platform, which retrieves print books, eBooks, database articles and websites. Click HERE for assistance.

Oliver Library Catalogue

Oliver Library Catalogue

Look here for books, eBooks, DVDs and websites.

More Websites

New World Encyclopedia: Soviet-Afghan War

Guide to Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

BBC News: Timeline - Soviet War in Afghanistan

The Soviet War in Afghanistan - History or Harbinger of Future War?

George Washington University: Afghanistan - Lessons From the Last War
Note where it says 'Jump to Documents' - this will take you to valuable primary source material.

COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION, 1982-1991 The Collapse of the Soviet Union

BBC: Reform, Coup and Collapse - the End of the Soviet State

Cold War Museum: The Fall of the Soviet Union

BBC - History: Reform, Coup and Collapse - The End of the Soviet State

Tomball College: The Fall of The Soviet Union - Whys and Wherefores

San Jose State University: The Economic Collapse of the Soviet Union

Wikipedia: Espionage
(Good general introduction & overview of espionage)

YouTube: Espionage
Spyweb – Cambridge Spies & other spies

Wikipedia: US - CIA

YouTube: O.S.S. - U.S. - (O.S.S. later became CIA

Google search: Spy rings in Australia

Skwirk: Petrov affair

Google search: Israel – Mossad

Google search: Soviet Union & KGB

Google search: Britain - MI5 & MI6
(M.I.5 handles domestic espionage and M.I.6 handles espionage abroad. Includes Roger Hollis)

BBC: The Cambridge Spies

Google search: MI5

Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonym: Johnson); John Cairncross.

The Times: How MI5 spent 18 years hunting the spy it had already caught
Good article

Cambridge Spies | How Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt and Cairncross were unmasked
Includes broadcast links

The Education Forum: The Cambridge Spy Ring: its creation, significance, and effects on Britain and the West

History Learning Site: Nuclear Arms Race

How Stuff Works: How the Nuclear Arms Race Works

Vibration The Cold War & Space Race

AudiFaz: The Nuclear Arms Race

Flow of History: Nuclear Arms Race



Primary Source Documents

Wilson Center Digital Archive :  excellent range of primary documents - use the search box to find your topic

The Avalon Project, Yale Law School : primary documents from the Cold War

CIA :  Assessing the Soviet threat

Library of Congress : Revelations from the Russian Archives_Cold War.  Documents translated into English and accessed via the Library of Congress

Office of The Historian, United State Government : Cold War years

British National Archives : The Cold War

John F Kennedy Museum : Cold War documents

History.Com -  videos of speeches from the Cold War 

Museum of Australian Democracy : The Petrov Affair

Korean War : Australian Government

Berlin Wall

Occupation and the Emergence of Two States (1945-1961) : German History in Documents and Images

Czech Crisis

CIA intelligence report - documented on 28 Oct 1986 'POLITICS IN THE SOVIET POLITBURO AND THE CZECH CRISIS'

Prague Spring Archive - Texas University

Speech by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev November 1968, as justification to Prague Spring  - Fordham University

Note:  In 1981, Yale Law reviewed the Brezhnev Doctrine - Law and Use of Force by States

Cold War studies (Transcript of Conversation between Brezhnev and Dubcek, 13 August 1968) - Harvard University

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia - Michigan University

Crisis in Czechoslovakia - (includes translated documents, images, video & audio) Michigan State University

Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia - Wilson Centre Digital Archive

Czechoslovakia 1968 - includes CIA reports documenting the build-up to and Soviet Invasion


The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.)

Look through the History databases above under 'Central Intelligence Agency' or 'C.I.A.'. There are many sources here!

Useful Databases

eBooks from the Library Catalogue

How to Write In-Text References for Humanities