Europe and the Global Cold War, 1962-1991: Confrontation, Détente and Collapse


After the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 the threat of imminent conflict in Europe receded, but the perils posed by nuclear war and antagonisms in the developing world remained.

This series of lectures will look at Europe’s role in a global Cold War as new international actors came to the fore (such as the People’s Republic of China). How would the peace in Europe be maintained? Why did the hopes associated with détente in the 1970s give way to a “New Cold War” in the 1980s? Could the Cold War division of the continent be reversed through peaceful means? And why did the conflict end so dramatically with the collapse of the Communist regimes of East-Central Europe in 1989-91?

Please note: enrolments for the series will close at 23:59 UTC on 19 January 2024.

Programme details

Lecture programme

Lectures take place on Tuesdays, from 11am–12.15pm UTC (GMT).

Tuesday 23 January 2024
The nuclear age: the Cuban missile crisis, détente and the “New Cold War” of the 1980s 

Tuesday 30 January 2024
Divided Germany: the era of the Berlin Wall and Ostpolitik

Tuesday 6 February 2024
The politics of protest and conformity in Europe across the Iron Curtain

Tuesday 13 February 2024
Europe and America: strains in the alliance?

Tuesday 20 February 2024
Challenges to Soviet hegemony: from the “Czech Spring” to Polish Solidarity, 1968-1982

Tuesday 27 February 2024
The end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism: 1985-1991

How and when to watch

Each lecture will last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, followed by questions.

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place from 10.30am before the first lecture (23 January only). 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.



Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £155.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £140.00


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, and of Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present (2nd edition 2012). He published East Wind: China and the British Left, 1925-1976 with Oxford University Press in 2012. His most recent book is Amnesty International and Human Rights Activism in Post-war Britain. He has published an article entitled “The Three Lives of Homage to Catalonia” in The Library, 3, 3 (2002).


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this lecture series. 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.