Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Domestic Politics of Us Foreign Policy
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
HY37120, IP38120, IP37020, IP36920, IP35520
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of historical knowledge and some political science literature in the field of US foreign policy.

Demonstrate an understanding of the various ways in which tradition, culture and ideology, partisan rivalry, electoral pressures, congressional activism, interest groups and wider public opinion impacted upon the foreign policymaking process during this period.

Read, analyse and reflect critically on selected secondary and primary texts.

Gather and sift appropriate items of historical evidence.

Develop the ability to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of particular historical arguments and where necessary challenge them.

Develop oral (not assessed) and written skills which will have been improved through seminar discussions and essays

Work both independently and collaboratively, and to participate in group discussions (not assessed).

Brief description

This module begins with an examination of the US political system, with a particular emphasis on the constitutional arrangements which make it both highly permeable to domestic lobby groups and sensitive to public opinion. Students will investigate how foreign policy outcomes emerge from a struggle between the executive branch and Congress for control of policy, and look at the impact of political parties, interest groups, ideology and public opinion. The second part of the course focuses on case studies, such as the Spanish-American War, the annexation of the Philippines, the First World War, and the Second World War. Post-1945 case studies include the Truman-MacArthur controversy, recognition of Israel, the Vietnam War and its legacy and the Guatemala intervention of 1954.


To introduce students to the ways in which US foreign policymaking and domestic politics interacted from the late 1890s to the 1990s.
To consider various domestic pressures and tensions that affected foreign policy-making.
To utilize various case studies to illustrate the impact of domestic politics on American foreign policy.


1: The US Constitution and Foreign Policy
2: Public Opinion, interest groups and elections
3: Culture and ideology
4: The Spanish-American War
5: The Annexation of the Philippines
6: World War One and the Treaty Fight
7: Roosevelt and 'Isolationism' before Pearl Harbor
8: Managing Public Opinion in Wartime
9: Truman's internationalism
10: Recognition of Israel
11: The MacArthur controversy
12: The Guatemala Intervention
13: The domestic challenges of Cuba policy under Eisenhower and Kennedy
14: The Vietnam War
15: The legacy of Vietnam: Congress resurgent?
16: The Panama Canal Treaties
17: South Africa policy under Reagan and Bush
18: Post Cold War US Cuba policy

1: Interest Groups
2: Race and Imperialism
3: Woodrow Wilson and his legacy
4: Roosevelt and the public
5: The presidential election of 1948
6. The United States and Latin America
7. Vietnam and public opinion
8. Congress and the executive at odds
9. The end of the cold war and the domestic politics of US foreign policy
10. Reflections

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will, where appropriate, draw upon public opinion polling data for seminar presentations, coursework essays, and examination preparation.
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6