Europe in the Cold War, 1945-1961


Between 1947-61 a divided Europe lay at the centre of the ideological Cold War – a new kind of conflict fought out by means of politics and propaganda rather than military combat.

This lecture series examines the impact of the Cold War on Europe – East and West – as well as the impact of Europe on the Cold War.

The lectures will combine the study of international relations during this period with analysis of the impact of the Cold War on countries such as France, Italy and – above all – Germany. We will also look at the cultural impact of the Cold War, and the moral and political dilemmas that it generated.

Programme details

Tuesdays 11am–12.30pm GMT (UTC)

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place from 10.30am before the first lecture (24 January 2023). Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room before each lecture, from 10.30am.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time. 

Each lecture will run for approximately 60 minutes followed by a Q&A lasting up to 30 minutes depending on audience participation.

Tuesday 24 January

What was the Cold War, and why did it begin?

Tuesday 31st January

Alliance or empire? The USA and Western Europe, from Marshall Aid to NATO

Tuesday 7 February

How the Cold War shaped the Politics and Culture of Western Europe

Tuesday 14 February

The Communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe, and the Challenges that they faced

Tuesday 21 February

Europe, decolonisation and the Global Cold War

Tuesday 28 February

To the brink and back: Khrushchev, Kennedy and the Berlin crisis, 1957-61


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £130.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £115.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Prof Tom Buchanan


Tom Buchanan is Professor of Modern British and European History at the University of Oxford, and Director of Studies in History and Politics at OUDCE. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on British involvement in the Spanish Civil War. His most recent book is Amnesty International and Human Rights Activism in Post-war Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.