GCSE Vietnam


Several worksheets are available on Vietnam at the bottom of this page.

A short history of the conflict with links to other resources.

The Vietnam War story from 3 people who experienced it.

A Vietnam revision podcast

The clip above is an introduction to the Vietnam War.

1. Why were the USA involved in Vietnam?

Was the U.S. right to go to war in Vietnam? The clip below shows a journalist who changed his mind. He initially supported the war but later changed it. Do you agree with what he said?

When working out why the US went to war, one needs to include the developments of the Cold War. Truman’s Containment and the Domino Theory were very much part of American foreign policy.

US involvement in Vietnam from wikipedia.

Gulf of Tonkin incident

The Gulf of Tonkin incident is seen as the trigger for the Vietnam War. This was the reason why the USA went to war. However, things are never as simple in history. Many historians, politicians and thise involved in the conflict argue that the event was exaggerated to the public at the time to encourage a war. President Lyndon Johnson used propaganda to convince the US that military force was required. This is one point of view. Another was that North Vietnamese forces did fire on US warships and retaliation was needed. If they were, what should be the required response? Your task is not to find out the truth but merely to explian how it led to war and that there are controversies over the event.

The clip above gives you footage from the conflict. What methods of fighting were used?

An article on why the US entered into conflict. Remember to cross reference.

Use this link to brainstorm the answer to the question.

2. What fighting methods were used by the USA?

Tactics for both sides of the conflict.

Students should also be aware that the Australian Army were also fighting in Vietnam. You can find out what they did in the link below.

An Australian website on the war.

3. What fighting methods were used by the Vietcong?

4. What were the strengths and weaknesses of each side?

5. What were the key events of the conflict?

Chronological list of the key events.

A good summary of the key events. Ideal for GCSE.

Mai Lai

The events of Mai Lai are obviously important and it will obviously link to questions 6 and 7.

Consequences of the Mai Lai massacre.

Tet Offensive

An excellent clip made by an American student.

6. Why was there opposition to the conflict in the USA?

Students should consider what they have found out so far and work out why there was opposition. There will always be some opposition to a war, regardless of who the enemy was. Which people would disagree with the war regardless and how would they get more support? Which events would lead to a larger anti-war protest?

This website has a graph at the bottom of the page which indicates the decreasing public support.

Another web page indicating the number of people supporting the Vietnam War.

7. What impact did opposition to the conflict have on the war?

What would the American soldiers think of the demonstrations in their own country? They may be risking their lives but what for? Put yourself in the same position.

The effects of Agent Orange from an Al-Jazeera article.

8. What was Vietnamization?

Vietnamization from Spartacus.

Vietnamization from a random Vietnam War website.

9. How was Vietnam reunited?

10. What was the impact of the war on Vietnam and the USA?

There was obviously a great deal of fallout from this war. It became increasingly controversial as the war went on. Vietnamization could be seen from the South Vietnamese as a betrayal. Relations between Vietnam were poor for many years after the war had ended. Foreign policy was undoubtedly affected, as indeed would be the effects on the US military. Morale of the American people and their reputation around the world would be poor.

There are several articles and clips available to learn more of the effects of the war below. Arguably one of the worst consequences is the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

Pol Pot from a Vietnam War website.

Some images below are quite shocking.

Other consequences are explained in the links below.

An article from Digital History.

A summary of the consequences of the war. Easy to read.

An slideshow answering the question above.

A short analysis answering the question.

Watch the clip above. How many consequences of the war can you see and which do you think were the most important?

11. What impact did the conflict have on US foreign policy?

A very detailed web page on the consequences of the war.

Why did the US lose the Vietnam War?

A useful page from Learn History.

Statistics about the Vietnam War.

Watergate Scandal

A detailed chronology from Spartacus Schoolnet.

A summary.

What impact on the US do you think the picture above gives?

An interesting clip from the actual photographer. Does it change your thoughts about the photograph?

A different version of the Vietnam War. It says it is objective and balanced but is it? You should only watch this after studying the whole course.

A common argument regarding the conflict is that the US media lost the war for America. They persuaded the people that the war was not worth fighting for. The public pressure that built up as a result led the government to rethink the war and pulled its’ forces out of the country between the years 1972 to 75. Is this a stereotype or is there evidence to support it?

The clip above is from a series entitled ‘1960’s’. Does it reflect what happened or does it merely enforce the stereotype/ view that the US lost the war because of the media?

A common view of the Vietnam War was that the American media was responsible for America withdrawing in 1972. This debate will run and run so to speak. However, what is your view? Watch the following clip and what impression do you think it had on the U.S. public. You may even include the debate on what information the media should be allowed to broadcast. Should there be any restrictions on the news that is shown to the public?

The Controlled Assessment – a few guidelines and rules

Part A- the historical enquiry

1. You must be able to support your statements, arguments and opinions with evidence.

2. The chosen sources should reflect a range of opinions. The wider the range of opinions, the better. Make sure the sources are referred to throughout the piece.

3. Try to include the following skills into your piece; prioritising your arguments, linking evidence together or identifying patterns.

4. You must make a judgment which links to the enquiry. This can be made anywhere in the piece but must be supported with evidence. The more you argue for and against the judgment, the more sustained the argument is. The mark scheme states that;

An explicit judgement is given, with a reasoned argument about the nature of change OR whether one factor was more important than the others OR the response explains the inter-relationship between two or more of the factors.

5. Do not describe! Do not quote large chunks of information. Do not answer a different question to that in the enquiry. Do not just join all your notes together.

6. You have one hour to write it up and the question is worth 20 marks.

7. You must have a full bibliography if you want to achieve level 3 or higher.

8. You are allowed to have two sides of notes and a separate page containing a plan.

Part B (i) – Compare two different interpretations

1. What are the similarities and differences between the two sources? Make sure you explain the comparisons in a paragraph, (developed rather than a simple statement). Do not analyse the reliability of the sources. Stick to comparisons.

2. Use phrases such as; whereas, however, on the other hand etc.

3. Analyse the nature, origins and purposes of the sources when making comparisons.

4. Make a judgment on which source has the more accurate representation and why.

5. You have half an hour to write it up and the question is worth 10 marks.

6. The representation sheets will be clean copies so no annotations are allowed in the actual controlled assessment.

Part B (ii) – Analyse and evaluate three representations

1. Explain how the conflict has been represented in different ways. Refer to the sources when doing this.

2. Your knowledge will analyse how accurate the representations are. Make sure you research extensively beforehand.

3. You should make a critical evaluation of the representation based on precisely selected information about the period in question and applying at least three criteria, for example the author’s purposes or objectivity, or the comprehensiveness and / or accuracy of the representation

4. Do the sources fully represent the conflict? How comprehensive are they? What is missing?

5. You MUST analyse each source and use the skills and questions above to do this.

6. You have one hour to write it up and the question is worth 20 marks.


Various quizzes on the Vietnam War.


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