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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the development of British external policy from the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1902 to the signing of the Treaty of Locarno in 1925. The course will focus on decision-making in Britain, and the impact of the First World War on this process.

Course description This 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 course looks at a familiar topic in a new light, employing the mythologies and approaches of International History.

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.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030).
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 **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 3,500 word Essay (70%)
1,500 word Source Review (30%)
Essay Plan (Formative)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Muriel Chamberlain, 'Pax Britannica'? : British Foreign Policy, 1789-1914 (1988)
Patrick Finney (ed.), Palgrave Advances in International History (2005)
Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht, 'Introduction: On the Diversity of Knowledge and the Community of Thought: Culture and International History', in Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht and Frank Schumacher (eds.), Culture and International History (2003), pp. 3-26
Paul Kennedy, The Realities Behind Diplomacy: Background influences on British External Policy, 1865-1980 (1981)
C.J. Lowe & Michael C. Dockrill (eds.), The Mirage of Power (1972)
T.G. Otte, The Foreign Office Mind: The Making of British Foreign Policy, 1865-1914 (2011)
T.G. Otte, The July Crisis: The World's Descent into War, Summer 1914 (2014)
Bernard Porter, Britain, Europe and the World, 1850-1982. Delusions of Grandeur (1983)
David Reynolds, Britannia Overruled: British Policy and World Power in the Twentieth Century (1991, 2000)
Zara Steiner, 'On writing international history: chaps, maps and much more', International Affairs, vol. 73, no. 3 (July 1997), pp. 531-546
Zara Steiner & Keith Neilson, Britain and the Origins of the First World War (2003)
Keith M. Wilson, The Policy of the Entente: Essays on the Determinants of British Foreign Policy, 1904-1914 (1985)
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 Lorna Berridge
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