Module Identifier IP37020  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew J Priest  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Lecture   16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  50%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  50%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
By the end of the course students will possess a broad grasp of the major themes in the history of the US global experience, including an understanding of key contested concepts such as ''Frontier'', ''Manifest Destiny'', ''Military-Industrial-Complex'', ''Containment'', and ''New World Order'', ''Globalization'' ''Terrorism'' and ''Empire''. Students are also expected to possess an understanding of the role of war in consolidating the social, political, and economic dynamics of the early US republic; the importance of entry into World War II for the US economy and domestic race relations; how and why economic security became the US strategic weapon of choice during the early Cold War period; the extent to which both US foreign policy and society (including gender relations) have been shaped by the Vietnam War experience; the extent to which the US has successfully formed a liberalised international trading system; the relationship between globalization, structural adjustment, and prison growth in the United States; and, finally, debate whether the US ''promotes democracy'' globally and whether in light of the ''War on Terror'' it makes sense to think of the US as the centre of a new form of Empire.

Brief description

This module is a comprehensive introduction to the international politics of the United States, including the political, military, economic, and cultural dimensions of US global power. The interpenetration of US 'domestic' society and the 'international' is the major organising theme of the course.


In addition to looking at some of the 'domestic' sources of US international politics the course considers many of the ways in which the 'international' or the 'global' has contributed to the constitution of US society, including economic, gender and race relations. In particular, the course addresses in some detail the historical relationship between war and modern US society. Lectures will provide much of the basic historical background of US international history. Seminars are more conceptual where students are expected to critically engage with the assigned reading in line with the stated aims of the course. No prior knowledge of US political or international history is required to perform well. However, students are expected to read a wide range of historical and conceptual approaches to understanding the United States in the World.


The module begins by looking at the role of foreign affairs in the making of the US Constitution and war in the rise of the US as a hemispheric and global power. In particular, we address the importance of entry into the world wars for consolidating US state power and shaping domestic race relations. The module then moves on to look at the role of Cold War grand strategy in constituting US national identity and how US society shaped, and was shaped by, the Vietnam War. The crucial interaction between military and economic power leads us to address US international political economy in both contemporary and historical perspective. We will then address the relationship between democracy, liberalism, and US wars since the 1990s, looking for evidence of continuity and change from earlier periods. Finally, students will debate in an informed manner the proposition that, since September 11, the US is emerging as the centre of a new form of global Empire.

Transferable skills

On successful completion of this course students will have developed and practiced a diverse range of transferable skills through presenting and participating in seminar discussions, writing a focussed and critical essay, and taking a thorough exam covering the course as a whole. During seminars, students will develop their analytical, debating, listening and verbal skills. The ability to both read a wide range of materials and synthesise new ideas will be practised and developed in preparation for (and during) seminar discussions. Everyone influences the classroom dynamic so all students will be expected to fulfil their responsibility to verbally contribute to the learning process and respectfully listen to the diverse and challenging views of others. The ability to work in small groups will be developed during seminar presentations and more general seminar discussions. Writing and note-taking skills will be enhanced during seminar presentations, the essay assignment, and exam. IT skills, independent reading and research and individual initiative will be developed by writing the essay assignment and preparing for the exam. The ability to write and think analytically under time constraints will be demonstrated during the exam. During lectures students will also develop listening and note-taking skills.

10 ECTS Credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Michael Cox US Foreign Policy After the Cold War: Super Power without a Mission
John Dumbrell American Foreign Policy: Carter to Clinton


This module is at CQFW Level 6