History of the Vietnam War

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HIS 121

       Course Name: History of the Vietnam War

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines the history and politics of the Vietnam War, beginning with the war between the French and the Vietnamese following World War II and ending with the defeat of the South by the North in 1975.

IV.   Learning Objectives

1.    the nature of the conflict in Vietnam, and how that conflict was viewed by the Vietnamese one the one hand, and by the French and later the United States on the other hand,
2.    the domestic and foreign-policy considerations that guided the decision-makers in the  United States as they made policy at the various stages of the war,
3.    the ebb and flow of the war itself,
4.    the factors that ultimately led the United States to disengage from the conflict in Vietnam, and
5.    the factors that led to the communist victory.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

A.    Introduction: The Roots of the War
B.    The First Vietnam War: the Vietminh v. the French
C.    Dienbienphu and After: The Eisenhower Years
D.    Ngo Dinh Diem: America’s Mandarin Fights His Own War
E.    Vietnam is the Place: The Kennedy Years, Counterinsurgency, Escalation, and the End of Diem
F.    Deepening Commitment, Disorder, and Decision: The Early Johnson Years
G.    America’s Enemy: The Vietnamese People North and South
H.    The U.S. Takes Over the War: The Later Johnson Years
I    The War at Home: The Domestic Conflict Over the War
J.    Tet: The Offensive and Its Impact
K.    Vietnamization: The Early Nixon Years
L    Fallout from the War: Cambodia and Laos
M.    “Peace With Honor:” The Later Nixon Years
N.    Communist Victory
O.    Legacies and Lessons

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods of instruction include lecture, class discussion, films, and computer simulations.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students are expected to attend each class, having read the assigned textbook material before coming to class, bringing with them any questions they might have on the text or other related materials.  They are also expected to be actively engaged in the class sessions through such things as attentiveness to lectures and films, note taking, asking questions, doing the assigned writing, and involvement in class discussions.

Students will be required to write outside of class the equivalent of 12 15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of Journal articles, and/or a series of shorter analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grades are based on exams, written assignments, classroom participation, and, when employed, class presentations.

At least one exam will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.