Sunday, October 11, 2009

Excelsior College's World Conflicts Since 1900 Exam

If you enjoy the History Channel, the World Conflicts Since 1900 exam from Excelsior College is one of the easiest ways you can earn three upper-level credits.

Even if you don't know much about historical military conflicts, you should be able to pass this exam with only a week or two of study.


Because you need to know a century's worth of subjects here, it's a bit harder for me to provide a bunch of links to all of the related study materials like I do with other exams. However, as far as conflicts go, you're going to want to know about World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War (including knowledge of the war prior to American entry, i.e., French military involvement), Cold War, Gulf War, and the formation of and conflict with the State of Israel in the Middle East. Here are some suggested resources:

Causes of World War One
Causes of World War II (Wikipedia)
Challenge It's DSST A History of the Vietnam War Study Guide

In addition to the above, and I cannot stress this enough, know about the conflict in the Balkans. The different former republics, the history of Tito, how Milosevic rose to power, etc., are all important. An excellent television series about the conflict was produced by the BBC and is entitled "The Death of Yugoslavia." You can find it here:

You should watch the entire series so you have a good knowledge of the issues and history of the conflict, if you don't already. If you open the video in a new window you should be able to view the rest of the series in the "Related Videos" on the right side of the screen.

As far as the State of Israel is concerned, know the history of when it was formed, and who the belligerents were in the different wars that it fought. Wikipedia has a good timeline of Israel's military history available here.  I also recommend the following documentary if you wish to get an extensive knowledge on Israeli military history, receive a free Israeli flag, and support this blog with an affiliate commission:

Israel's War History - now on DVD


Know about international law, particularly the different categories of war under international law, the UN Security Council, its number of members, and the names of the member states with veto powers. The difference between the UN Security Council and the General Assembly is important to know (it's the Security Council that has more powers relating to international conflicts).

Read about the different types of war (preemptive, defensive, aggressive), and the differences between unipolar, bipolar, and multipolar balances of power. You should also know the difference between state actors and non-state actors and the importance of this distinction in international war (it's harder to define and fight a non-state actor than an actual state).

Some important reading material includes:

Functions and Powers of the General Assembly (United Nations website)
Types of Wars
UN Security Council: Background (United Nations website)


I didn't study much of this part of the exam due to the lack of substantive material online, and it was to my detriment. I didn't know the answers to a few questions about the positions of academics such as Stoessinger and Ziegler. The following textbooks are listed in the content guide from Excelsior College as recommended studying material, and I would suggest that they would be useful if you can borrow them from a library or want to buy them and resell afterwards to another student:

Understanding International Conflicts: An Introduction to Theory and History (10th Edition)
War, Peace, & International Politics (8th Edition)
Why Nations Go to War

That's pretty much all I can think of for study suggestions. Keep in mind, if you already know a lot about military history, you could probably pass the test anyway. Just study the parts you have less knowledge of for a couple days and you should be ready to write the exam. Good luck!

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