Module Identifier IP37020  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator To Be Arranged  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
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. For further clarification please contact the Academic 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.


This module introduces students to the international poltics of the United States, including the political, military, economic, and cultural dimensions of US global power. The interpenetration of the 'domestic' and the 'international' is the major theme. Lectures will provide much of the basic historical background of US international history. Seminar content is more conceptual where students are expected to critically engage with broad topics unde discussion 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 approaches to understanding the United States in the World.


This module examines continuity and change in the conduct of American foreign policy from the founding of the republic to the present day. The module begins by looking at the role of foreign affairs in the American War of Independence, the making of the US Constitution and the rise of the US as a hemispheric and global power. It addresses the importance of entry into the world wars for consolidating US state power and shaping domestic politics. The module then moves on to look at the role of the US grand strategy in the Cold War and how it shaped and was in turn shaped by the Superpower confrontation with the Soviet Union. Particular focus is given to the Vietnam War and its subsequent impact on American foreign policy in the later years of the Cold War, as well as the emergence of `Reaganism? in the 1980s. The course then examines the role of the US in the ending of the Cold War and 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 the end of the Cold War 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
Ambrose, Stephen E. (1971.) Rise to globalism :American foreign policy since 1938 /Stephen E. Ambrose. 0713902701
Bacevich, A. J. (2002 (various p) American empire :the realities and consequences of U.S. diplomacy /Andrew J. Bacevich. 0674013751
Merrill, D and Paterson, T. G (eds.) Major Problems in American Foreign Relations


This module is at CQFW Level 6