The Cold War 1945-1991

Brad Kelly
Brad teaches, writes and leads tours in the area of Modern History, with a focus on the Cold War and Changing World Order
The Cold War was a geopolitical and ideological conflict between the United States and Soviet Union between 1945 and 1991.
Target Audience
This course is targeted to teachers of NSW HSC Modern History teaching the unit on the Cold War.

Learning Areas

Teaching Standards

General Description

The Cold War was a geopolitical and ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted between 1945 and 1991. In the months after World War II, the great wartime alliance began to break down as both sides sought to fashion a world in their image. A series of conferences in 1945 failed to overcome the emerging differences and in the following years the differences would become entrenched. These differences would congeal into established borders in Europe and lead to conflict in Asia, South America and other parts of the world.


This course is targeted to teachers of NSW HSC Modern History teaching the unit on the Cold War.

Available Delivery Formats

This course contributes to 5.5 professional development hours.


There are no occurrences of Face to Face in Australia (NSW) at this time.



1 hour and 30 minutes

• Explain how the origins of Cold War were geopolitical as well as ideological in nature.
• Understand the different post-war goals of the United States and the Soviet Union and why these were the source of tension.
• Examine the concept of containment and how it changed through the Cold War.
• Evaluate the centrality of Berlin as a source of Cold War tension.
• Examine the shift to Asia.


1 hour and 30 minutes

• Explain how the policy of containment continued and changed shape under Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.
• Examine Khrushchev’s Peaceful Co-Existence and the Secret Speech.
• Analyse the role of the space race and arms race as significant sites of superpower rivalry
• Evaluate the strategic significance of Berlin, the crisis over Cuba and the shock of the Prague Spring.


1 hour

• Explain and analyse the emergence of the multipolar world after the China A-bomb in 1964.
• Examine the concept of triangular diplomacy and how the Americans, Soviets and Chinese had to redefine their relationships during the 1960s and 1970s.
• Explore the geopolitical dimensions of the Vietnam War, the Sino-Soviet Split and the events in the Middle East in 1967, 1973 and 1979.


1 hour and 30 minutes

• Examine the forces that delivered Ronald Reagan the 1980 election as détente broke down and the United States changing attitudes to the Soviets through the 1980s.
• Evaluate the role of Gorbachev as a reformer.
• Develop an understand of the key policies of perestroika, glasnost and the repeal of the Brezhnev Doctrine.
• Analyse the final collapse of communism and the chain of events that started with the fall of the Berlin Wall and ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

No Reviews

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About the team

Brad Kelly


Brad Kelly teaches at St. Marys Star of the Sea College in Wollongong, NSW. He is a writer and teacher with over 15 years of experience in the classroom. Brad is the author of World Order 1945-2011, A Globalised World 1945-2010, The Cold War 1945-1991 and co-author of The Changing World Order and Investigating Modern History for Cengage Nelson. He is passionate about professional learning and has been a presenter at the HTA state and regional conferences and a contributor to Teaching History. Brad is also a tour manager for Academy Travel, where he has the opportunity to bring history alive for his students across Europe. Brad has a deep knowledge of and interest in the global forces that have shaped the modern world between the end of World War II and today, and approaches the subject with a focus on teachers and the effective delivery of the content.