Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Contemporary US Foreign Policy
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 4 x 2 Hour Seminars
Lecture 16 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment 30 minute group policy report presentation  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of IR theories and theories of decision-making in the study of foreign policy
2. demonstrate an awareness of the limits of current foreign policy analysis theories and their application
3. identify and discuss the cultural, economic, geographical, historical, and political dimensions of foreign policy making
4. outline major thematic debates in the study of foreign policy implementation
5. demonstrate a grasp of how key foreign policy concepts have been applied to inform the study of US foreign policy
6. identify major challenges and opportunities faced by US foreign policy-makers in the contemporary era.
7. develop an empirically informed appreciation of historical and contemporary practices of US foreign policy based on the use of primary and secondary sources

Brief description

This module has two main objectives. Firstly, the module examines foreign policy analysis from a conceptual angle with a focus on theories, concepts, and models in foreign policy analysis. The module seeks to understand the manner in which foreign policy is formulated and executed through a critical engagement with theories of decision-making in foreign policy analysis, an analysis of interests and values informing foreign policy-making, the study of practical issues and problems in foreign policy decision-making (domestic and international pressures), and a critical examination of the role of individuals in the implementation of foreign policy. Secondly, the module seeks to apply the conceptual content to US foreign policy in the contemporary era. The module introduces the main theoretical and conceptual debates concerning US foreign policy; focuses on the institutions and processes of US foreign policy-making; analyses the individual, governmental, societal and external sources of US foreign policy; and thus seeks to explain the role of the US within the international system today and its relationship with other states and non-state actors. The module tackles a range of issues and challenges facing the US, such as international terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ‘pivot’ of US foreign policy from the Middle East to East Asia, effects of globalisation, environmental issues, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and the nature of US relations with other major powers.


The module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Topics and questions covered during these sessions include:
Part 1. Foreign Policy Analysis: Theories and Concepts
• What is Foreign Policy Analysis?
• Levels and Models of Foreign Policy Analysis and Decision-making
• IR Theory and Foreign Policy
Part 2. United States Foreign Policy
• Historical and Ideological Foundations of US Foreign Policy: Traditions Interests, Ideals, Values, and Beliefs
• Defining the National Interest in the 21st Century: From Bush to Trump
• Actors and Processes: Foreign Policy Process – The Executive and the US Congress (Diplomacy, Defense, and Intelligence)
• Domestic Sources: Think Tanks, NGOs, Interest Groups, the Media and the Public
• External Sources: The International System and the Global Economy
• US Foreign Policy in an Age of Globalism: Key issues and Challenges

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 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 presentation 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 presentation 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. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE. The assessed presentation will require the use of PowerPoint
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. The assessed presentation requires the development of presentation skills and ability to work in a team. 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; preparing for module assessments will require students to 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; 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.
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 and the assessed presentation is based on teamwork.


This module is at CQFW Level 5