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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Continental Commitment: British Foreign Policy toward Europe in the Era of the Great War (HIST10378)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to consider the revolution in British foreign policy that occurred between 1902 and 1925 through the relationship between foreign, strategic and economic policy. In the late nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth century Britain was simultaneously a European, American, Asiatic and African power. The purpose of this course is to examine the ways in which British policy-makers manipulated their foreign and defence policies to maintain Britain¿s overseas interests, with particular reference to the ¿continental commitment¿ to Europe. The chronological period covered by the course includes the time when Britain arguably reached the apogee of its global power, yet signs of decline in Britain¿s global position were also becoming apparent.

The topics that will be examined will include: the composition and ideologies of the policy-making elite in Britain; the influence of the Treasury, and more generally of economic constraints, on foreign and defence policy; the government of the British empire in the early twentieth century; the place of the Foreign Office in the making of British foreign policy; the decision to rebuff German advances for an alliance but to negotiate an alliance with Japan and ententes with France and Russia at around the turn of the century; the formulation of British defence policy from the conclusion of the Boer War to the start of the First World War; the decision to go to war in 1914; the development of war aims during the First World War; the changing nature of the foreign policy making process under Lloyd George; the problems of peacemaking and the ¿New¿ Diplomacy.

The resources of the NAS, NLS and online databases provide opportunities for original student work in this area. Although the bulk of the course will be taught using secondary sources available in the University Library.
Course description Week 1: Introduction: the Victorian Legacy in British Foreign Policy

Week 2: The Realities Behind Diplomacy: the Foreign Policy Decision-Making Process to 1916

Week 3: Russia or Germany? British Foreign & Defence Policy to 1914

Week 4: The Near Eastern Question in British Policy to 1914

Week 5: The July Crisis & the Decision for War

Week 6: The First World War: British War Aims & Peace Diplomacy

Week 7: Making British Foreign Policy under Lloyd George, 1916-1922

Week 8: Peacemaking 1919 I ¿ German Questions

Week 9: Peacemaking, 1919 II ¿ Territorial and Minority Questions

Week 10: The Versailles System in Operation: the League of Nations and the ¿Prehistory¿ of Appeasement

Week 11: Conclusion: the question of ¿Decline¿ in British Foreign Policy
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  26
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 3,000 word essay (40%), oral assessment based on contributions in seminar discussions and one formal presentation (10%) and one two-hour examination paper (50%).

It is proposed that the following be included in the course handbook regarding the oral contribution:

Informal oral contributions

It is fully appreciated that speaking in front of others is a skill that comes more easily to some than others, but it is an important skill in terms of securing employment as so it is a skill that all should strive to acquire. The most significant issue are to attend and to participate. Students will be assessed on the relevance of their comments, analytical skills, and knowledge and understanding of the subject. Students should be aware that it is the quality rather than the quantity of the contribution which is being assessed. Unexplained absences will result in reduced seminar participation and a lower oral grade.

Formal Assessed Oral presentations

They will be assessed on content, clarity and delivery. Where appropriate, students are encouraged to make use of overhead projectors, whiteboards, and PowerPoint.

Formal presentations should remain within the time limit stipulated by the tutor. The following regulations apply:

a. Students who fail to deliver their presentation must within five days provide their tutor with an alternative written presentation. Written versions handed in more than five days late will incur the same penalties as late essays.
b. Students who for good reason cannot deliver their presentation must inform their tutor immediately and, if at all possible, prior to the seminar. In such cases the tutor will attempt to re-arrange the presentation for another date or will give the student an alternative presentation topic. Should that not be possible, the student will be asked to submit a write-up in lieu of the presentation. Write-ups submitted after the agreed hand-in date will be subject to the same penalties as late essays.

In addition an Oral Assessment Report will be used in order to allow a degree of transparency for the oral grade (and will be made available to the external examiner) and will be made available to the students in order to facilitate constructive feedback.

Components of Assessment for a ¿Visiting Student Instance¿ of this course
One 3,000 word essay (40%), oral assessment based on contributions in seminar discussions and one formal presentation (10%) and one two-hour examination paper (50%).
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
After completing the course, students will be able to:
- demonstrate critical understanding of historical debates concerning the development of British foreign policy in the era of the Great War and the relevant aspects of international history;
- exhibit a detailed understanding of the interaction between foreign and domestic policy and effect of the Great War in the development of British foreign policy;
- analyse and contextualise primary source material relating to the development of British foreign policy;
- arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework essays;
- exhibit their skills in group discussion;
- demonstrate their written, analytical and theoretical skills in coursework;
Reading List
P. Kennedy, The Realities behind diplomacy. Background influences on British External Policy, 1865-1980, (1981), pp. 17-74.
D. Reynolds, Britannia Overruled. British Policy and World Power in the Twentieth Century (1991), pp. 1-65.
Z. Steiner, The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy, 1898-1914 (1969)
F. H. Hinsley (ed.), British Foreign Policy under Sir Edward Grey (1977).
K. Neilson, ¿¿Greatly exaggerated¿: the myth of decline of Great Britain before 1914¿, International History Review (1991)
J. R. Ferris, '"The greatest power on earth": Great Britain in the 1920s', International History Review, vol. 13, no. 4 (1991), pp. 726-50.
P. J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins, British Imperialism 1688-2000
D. C. Watt, Personalities and Politics (1965)
D. Dilks, ¿The British Foreign Office between the wars¿, in B. McKercher and D. J. Moss (eds.), Shadow and Substance in British Foreign Policy 1895-1939 (1984).
C. J. Lowe and M. L. Dockrill, The Mirage of Power, vol. 2.
M. Howard, The Continental Commitment. The Dilemma of British Defence Policy in the Era of the Two World Wars
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study of the past gives students a unique understanding of the present that will enable them to succeed in a broad range of careers. The transferable skills gained from this course include:
¿ understanding of complex issues and how to draw valid conclusions from the past
¿ ability to analyse the origins and development of current historiographical debates
¿ a command of bibliographical and library- and/or IT-based online and offline research skills
¿ a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
¿ ability to question and problematise evidence; considering the relationship between evidence and interpretation
¿ ability to marshal arguments lucidly, coherently and concisely, both orally and in writing
¿ ability to deliver a paper or a presentation in front of peer audiences
¿ ability to design and execute pieces of written work and to present them suitably, as evidenced by the assessed essay of 3,000 words
Course organiserMr David Kaufman
Tel: (0131 6)51 3857
Course secretaryMiss Clare Guymer
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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