The Watergate crisis
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HAH47
Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)
What is the course about?
The course looks closely at the constitutional crisis that developed from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in 1972. The Nixon administration’s attempt to cover-up the burglary and to impede the press and Justice Department investigations into the burglary were revealed by a Senate investigation that enthralled the nation. Nixon became the first, and to date the only, president to resign from office when prospect of being impeached seemed likely. The course will look at the crisis’ impact on the office of the presidency and how it became part of a challenge by the legislative branch to executive power.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The course will examine the creation of the Plumbers’ Unit, a covert surveillance unit specifically to spy on Nixon’s political opponents, the role of the Washington Post’s reporter Woodward and Bernstein in revealing the details of the conspiracy, the crucial roe of Judge John Sirica, the Senate investigation led by Senator Sam Ervin, and the desperate attempts by Nixon and his aides to keep hold of power.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Recognise the long-term and short-term causes of the crisis, understand the contribution that the major figures of the period played in the cover-up and revealing of the conspiray, and identify the enduring impact of the crisis on the prestige of the executive office.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is available to learners of all levels - beginners, intermediate and advanced.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course be taught online and will consist of mini-lectures and discussion of primary and secondarysources, such as speeches, letters and diaries. Those sources discussed in class will be available in advance of the online session through Google classroom, although there is no requirement to read them before the class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no other costs or requirements, although a pen and paper might prove useful should you wish to take notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Have a look at our range of American History courses online.
Dafydd Townley is a lecturer in American History at the University of Reading where he teaches courses to undergraduates and graduates on the FBI, protest groups in 1960s America, and race and ethnicity in the United States, as well as broad survey modules on US history. His research interests include American national security policy, the US intelligence community, cybersecurity policy, US grand strategy and US domestic counterintelligence operations. His research has been supported by University of Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute, Columbia University, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, the Institute for Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society. His work has been published in History, the Journal of Intelligence History and his monograph, The Year of Intelligence in the United States: Public Opinion, National Security and the 1975 Church Committee will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in June, 2021. His current research focuses on the long-term development of US cybersecurity policy.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.