Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Diplomacy of Decline: Britain & World Politics 1851-2001
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar performance  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 words assignment in lieu of seminar performance  10%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay, if essay element failed  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay, if essay element failed  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss the key concepts and traditions of nineteenth and twentieth century British diplomacy in the context of Empire, foreign relations and defence
2. Apply these concepts to specific processes and practices of British imperialism and diplomacy in the second half of the nineteenth century.
3. Explore and examine the ideological, political and economic factors that underpinned British imperial strategy before WW1
4. Analyse and understand British alliance diplomacy in the early twentieth century
5. Evaluate the impact of the two world wars on British power and overseas policy.
6. Explore and understand the processes and policies behind British decolonization after 1945.
7. Assess and evaluate British attempts to re-cast its international role in the post-imperial era
8. Engage with and understand historical debates about British decline within the broader context of twentieth century international relations

Brief description

The module provides a broad historical and historiographical analysis of Britain's changing world role in the 19th and 20th centuries. It places particular emphasis on explaining the global expansion of British imperialism up to the period of the First World War, and, subsequently, analyzing and understanding the waning of British power and influence after 1919. Specifically, it focuses upon the driving ideological, political and economic forces behind British imperialism, the impact of the two world wars on Britain'r international role, processes of decolonization and the struggle to define Britain's international role in the post-1945 era. In this latter context it explores Britain'r web of post-imperial relationships with Europe, the United States and the Commonwealth, and engages with late-20th century debates about British 'recline?.


The module seeks to provide students with a detailed and sophisticated historical understanding of Britain's world role. It aims to promote a deeper understanding of the complex legacies of British imperialism and of the changing ways in British influence and overseas policy have been constructed and formulated in an age of declining British power.


Lectures (recorded and made available online)
1. Major themes in British foreign policy
2. The Imperial Idea: the British Empire and its Critics in the 19th Century
3. Imperial diplomacy and the balance of power in the age of Palmerston
4. Gladstone, Disraeli and the New Imperialism
5. Splendid Isolation? British diplomacy at the fin de siecle.
Global Wars
6. Britain and the Origins of the First World War
7. British Strategy and War Aims. 1914-1919
8. Appeasement and the Origins of the Second World War
9. The People'r War? Britain and the Second World War
10. Britain's Cold War
Losing an Empire
11. The Decline of the British Imperial System after WW2
12. The End of Britain'r Asian Empire
13. Failure in the Middle East: from Palestine to Suez
14. Winds of Change: British Decolonization in Africa
Finding a Role
15. Anglo-America: the 'rpecial Relationship? after 1945
16. Britain and Europe after 1945
17. Iron Britannia: Margaret Thatcher on the world stage
18. New Labour, new foreign policy?

Seminars (8 x 2-hours)
1. Splendid Isolation? The traditions of British diplomacy in the 19th century world
2. The Origins of the First World War
3. Strategy, War Aims and Peace Diplomacy, 1914-1919
4. Britain and the Second World War
5. Understanding British Decolonization after 1945
6. Circles: the USA, Europe and the Commonwealth
7. The Decline Debate
8. Great Again? British Diplomacy Under Margaret Thatcher

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. This module will particularly test aural and oral communication skills as it involves assessed seminar performance. Students will also be required to submit their essays in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format and to submit coursework electronically through the Blackboard VLE. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web. Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two essays and preparation for seminar discussions will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. Blackboard facilities such as the message boards and forums will also be used and students will be encouraged to contribute their comments to the entries.


This module is at CQFW Level 6