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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Foreign Policy Analysis (PGSP11300)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course covers the literature, research topics, and current issues in the area of foreign policy analysis -- an identifiable subfield within the study of international relations in political science. Research in this area is designed to answer the question: Why do states do what they do in international politics? The course is organized in a basic "levels of analysis" framework that roughly corresponds to the historical development of the study of foreign policy analysis. Particular attention will be paid to current decision making approaches to foreign policy. The emphasis in the course is on theories of foreign policy, although students will also be exposed to the substance/content of the foreign policies of various countries.
Course description 1. What is Foreign Policy? What is Foreign Policy Analysis
The initial session introduces students to the subject by defining "foreign policy" vis--vis "domestic policy", "foreign policy behaviour" and "international relations." This session also examines the origins, assumptions, and development of foreign policy analysis within the broader study of international relations.

2. External Influences on Foreign Policy
This session explores the role of systemic and other external factors on foreign policy. These factors are connected to other major theories of international relations, such as realism, liberal institutionalism, constructivism, dependency theory, and the English School. General critiques of systemic explanations are examined and assessed in this session.

3. Societal Sources of Foreign Policy: Culture & Identity
This session goes "inside the state" and examines how cultural norms and beliefs and roles and identities can influence both the substance and the process of foreign policy making. Connections to role theory and constructivism are explored. Post-World War II and post-Cold War German and Japanese foreign policy are common examples in this area of foreign policy analysis.

4. Societal Sources of Foreign Policy: Public Opinion & Interest Groups
Building on the previous session, the material presented here critically examines the role of public opinion and organized public groups. Research on public opinion and foreign policy has developed from a consensus that the public plays no role, to work that demonstrated the impact of public opinion on foreign policy, to a more complicated view of the relationship between masses and elites, in both democracies and non-democratic states.

5. The Role of Government Structures and Political Opposition in Foreign Policy
This session extends the theme that institutional arrangements affect how much elites are constrained by the masses. Research in this area connects the study of foreign policy to work in comparative politics and to ideas from liberalism, democratic peace theory, and diversionary theories of war in international relations.

6. Organizational Process in Foreign Policy Making
This session proceeds with the shift in this course to decision making perspectives. Classic studies on the role of bureaucratic politics and organizational procedures are critically evaluated and updated.

7. The Psychology of Foreign Policy Decision Making: General Issues

Continuing to look into the "black-box" of decision making, this week introduces students to the general issues raised in the psychological approach to foreign policy, including the importance of individuals and their subjective understanding, different conceptualizations of agency, and empirical challenges to the application of psychological concepts in foreign policy research.

8. The Psychology of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Personality
Week 8 examines key approaches to the study of individual differences in leaders and their effects on foreign policy processes and outcomes. Leadership Trait Analysis, Operational Code Analysis, and Motive Analysis are explored as theoretical and methodological techniques used by scholars and analysts to profile world leaders.

9. The Psychology of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Beliefs and Information Processing
The material covered in this session focuses on the dynamics that are common to all human decision making and the limits to information processing and how these can affect leader choices. Image theory, prospect theory, and problem representation are key concepts introduced in this week.

10. The Psychology of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Group Dynamics
This session examines the social psychological influence processes that can influence foreign policy when decisions are made in and/or discussed by small groups of policymakers. Key issues covered in this material include group think, group polarization, minority influence and dissent, and the quality of group decision making.

11. Multi-Level Frameworks and the Future of Foreign Policy Analysis
The final session of this course brings together different approaches in a discussion of multi-level frameworks, including the 2-Level Game framework and the Decision Units research project. The relationships between the various factors are discussed in the context of current and future directions in the study of foreign policy.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) All students submit one essay of approximately 4000 words, worth 70% of the final mark. In addition, students will submit a summary of one supplementary reading, worth 10% of course mark and will be assessed in two 'spotlight' weeks of discussion (totalling to 20% of the course mark).
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a balanced and comprehensive appreciation of the study of foreign policy, with particular emphasis on current decision making and psychological approaches
  2. Have a theoretical foundation with which to understand and explain the substance and process of foreign policy making across many states and in comparative perspective
  3. Have an in-depth understanding of the major epistemological and methodological issues in the study of foreign policy
  4. Have an appreciation of the relationship between foreign policy analysis and the study of international relations and politics more generally.
Reading List
Hudson, Valerie (2005) "Foreign Policy Analysis: Actor-Specific Theory and the Ground of International Relations". Foreign Policy Analysis 1: 1-30.
Foyle, Douglas C., "Leading the Public to War? The Influence of American Public Opinion on the Bush Administration's Decision to Go to War in Iraq," International Journal of Public Opinion Research 16:269-294.
Hollis, M. and S. Smith (1986) "Roles and Reasons in Foreign Policy Decision Making". British Journal of Political Science 16: 269-286.
Levy, Jack S. (2003) "Political Psychology and Foreign Policy," in David Sears, Leonie Huddy, and Robert Jervis (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 253-284.
Michael D. Young and Mark Schafer, "Is there method in our madness? Ways of assessing cognition in international relations," Mershon International Studies Review, 1998, 63-96.
Hougton, David P. (2007) "Reinvigorating the Study of Foreign Policy Decision Making: Toward a Constructivist Approach," Foreign Policy Analysis 3:24-45.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Juliet Kaarbo
Tel: (0131 6)50 4252
Course secretaryMrs Gillian Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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