MYP 4/5 Course Description

  • Unit title: The Origins of the Cold War
    Statement of inquiry: Nations form alliances to protect their military, cultural and economic interests.
    Key concept: systems

    • systems are sets of interacting or independent components. Systems provide structure and order in human and natural and built environments. Systems can be static or dynamic, simple or complex. For individuals and societies, systems thinking provides a powerful tool for understanding both natural and human environments, and the role of individuals within them. Social and natural systems rely on a state of equilibrium and are vulnerable to change from internal and external forces (Individuals and societies guide, 2015).
      • For this unit we will be focusing on the ideological systems of capitalism and communism and on the alliance systems of Nato and the Warsaw Pact.

    Related concepts: conflict, cooperation, ideology

    • conflict can develop from inequalities in distribution of power and may manifest itself in many forms: protracted disagreements or arguments; prolonged armed struggles; clashes of opposing feelings or needs; serious incompatibilities between two or more opinions, principles or interests. Historians study conflict between individuals and societies over time and across place and space, and they also examine how conflicts can be sources of continuity and catalysts for change (Individuals and societies guide, 2015).
      • For this unit we will be examining the opposing feelings and needs of the USSR and the USA and how that opposition led to long-term conflict.

    • cooperation is the action or process of individuals or societies working together towards the same end. Historians examine the cooperation between societies, individuals, and environments in order to determine the positive, negative, short-term and long-term factors that define/derive a historical event or process. Cooperation can be a catalyst for change or continuity. Cooperation between actors implies certain levels of responsibility (Individuals and societies guide, 2015).
      • For this unit we will be examining the cooperation agreements that developed between countries and how they helped define the future course of the Cold War.

    • ideology is a system of ideas and ideals, which can form the basis of political or economic theories, policies and actions. Ideologies usually encompass systematic arrangements of premises and assertions that are used to interpret the world and make normative assertions about how it should be organized. Ideologies can evolve and change over time in order to meet the needs of a group of people or a society. Ideologies can be derived from the place and space in which a group of people or a society is located. Ideologies can evolve into political, economic or social systems and these systems can impact humans in a variety of ways. For example, through the definition of certain rights and responsibilities (Individuals and societies guide, 2015).
      • For this unit we will be examining the political ideologies of the USA and USSR and how those ideologies led those countries to make decisions about how the world should be organized.

    Global context: identities and relationships
    • An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
      • Our inquiry will focus on the beliefs and values of communists and capitalists, Americans and Soviets, and the clash between these two cultures.

    Assessment objectives

    A1: use a wide range of terminology in context
    • use the following terms in context:
      1. People: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Truman, Atlee, Molotov, Kennan, Wallace, Byrnes, Lublin Poles, London Poles
      2. Places:Berlin, West Germany, East Germany, Poland, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Italy, France
      3. Things:the United Nations, Yalta Conference, Potsdam Conference, Nato, the Warsaw Pact, the Long Telegram, Cominform, Comecon, Marshall Plan, provisional/interim government, coalition government, occupation zones, sectors, Berlin Blockade, Berlin airlift, propaganda, denazification, cold war
      4. Ideas:iron curtain, sphere of influence, containment, communism, capitalism, democracy, buffer zone, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, superpower, Truman Doctrine
    A2: demonstrate knowledge and understanding through developed descriptions, explanations and examples
    • explain why the USA-USSR alliance in 1945-46 began to break down in 1945
    • describe the consequences of the Berlin blockade
    • explain how the USSR gained control of Europe by 1948
    B3: use research methods to collect and record appropriate, varied and relevant information
    • use research methods to collect and record information related to the research question, “Who was more to blame for the start of the Cold War: the USA or the USSR?”
    • ATL: Organization skills--managing time and tasks effectively by keeping an organized and logical system of information files
    B4: evaluate the process and results of an investigation
    • evaluate the process and results of an investigation into the research question,“Who was more to blame for the start of the Cold War: the USA or the USSR?”
    • ATL: Reflection skills—considering the process of learning by asking what questions do I have now
    • Learner Profile: Reflective—We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development
    C3: document sources of information using MLA format
    • document sources of information for the research essay
    • ATL: Media literacy skills—locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
    • Learner Profile: Principled—We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of other people.
    D1: discuss concepts, issues, models, visual representation, theories
    • discuss Soviet expansionism and American reactions to it
    D2: synthesize information to make valid, well-supported arguments
    • argue who was more to blame for starting the Cold War: the USA or the USSR
    D3: analyze and evaluate a wide range of sources/data in terms of origin and purpose, examining values and limitations
    • analyze and evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources related to the Cold War in terms of origin and purpose, examining values and limitations
    D4: interpret different perspectives and their implications
    • compare and contrast the arguments of George Kennan and Henry Wallace regarding U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union

    Weekly Timeline (31 March-23 May)




Are the causes of war by accident or by design?

Key Concept: Global InteractionsObjectives: A1, A2; C2, C3; D2, D3ATL: Information LiteracyLearner Profile: Inquirers


  • Week One:
    • Treaty of Versailles and its consequences
    • The in-between years (1919-1939)
    • Criterion A
  • Week Two:
    • rearmament, Saar plebiscite, remilitarization of the Rhine, Anschluss, Spanish Civil War, the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia
    • The policy of appeasement
    • Source analysis: origin, purpose, value, limitation
  • Week Three
    • Czechoslovakia and the end of appeasement
    • Nazi-Soviet pact


  • Activity: Select and defend your view on the policy of appeasement


  • Required reading
  • Suggested reading