British Foreign Policy

Course NameBritish Foreign Policy
Course CodeIRS359 / IRS649
DescriptionWhat have Britain’s major foreign policies been in modern history? Why were those policies pursued and what were their outcomes for the country and on other actors? This course attempts to answer these fundamental questions by way of a comprehensive and critical discussion of Britain’s external relations from the start of the twentieth century until contemporary times. Major themes addressed include British responses to the challenges of the two World Wars; imperial collapse; Cold War activity; involvement with the European project; and more recent attempts to negotiate a role and maintain power in the context of globalization and challenges to Western pre-eminence. Conceptually, the course isinterested in analysing crucial foreign policy decisions in terms of structure and agency and the apparent tension between Idealism and Realism in the making of British foreign policy. In exploring our topic in a narrative fashion informed by theory, students can reach a thorough and profound understanding of Britain’s global position in modern history and today.
Learning OutcomesUpon completion of this course, students will be able to:
– Demonstrate a sound awareness of the chronology and outline of British foreign policy from c.1900 to today, including key dates and central personalities;
– Locate British foreign policy decisions within broader regional and global contexts;
– Recognize central problems in the history of British foreign policy and how these problems may be approached by historians and theorists working within political science and international relations;
– Apply concepts of Idealism and Realism to the problem of British foreign policy;
– Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of how a European power coped with the reality of decline and a changing global environment in the later twentieth century;
– Critically understand British foreign policies and foreign policy challenges in the contemporary world.
SchoolSchool of International Relations and Diplomacy (IRD)
LevelBachelor / Master
Number of credits (US / ECTS)3 US / 6 ECTS