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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Postgraduate Course: U.S. Grand Strategy and Foreign Policy (PGSP11618)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will analyse the competing explanations for historical and contemporary U.S. foreign policies. It will encourage you to explain and evaluate competing strategies for how the U.S. can best achieve its foreign policy goals across a range of issues and regions. It will also examine the foreign policy process to debate the relative influence of government bodies and other actors on the policy-making process.
Course description The course will be divided into three sections. The first will discuss the insights of the main IR theoretical traditions (including traditional and critical approaches) and cover the debate over which grand-strategy the US should adopt to achieve its foreign policy goals. The second will take an in-depth look at the principal actors and influences in the US foreign policy decision making process. The third section will analyse a variety of US foreign policies focused on regions (eg. Europe and the Middle East), themes (eg. military intervention or the environment) or issues of topical importance (eg. rise of China).
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 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay 1 (1500 words) 35%
Policy Brief (2500 words) 55%
Seminar participation 10%
Feedback Essay 1 will be returned before the essay deadline to give students feedback on their writing before the Policy Brief is due.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop an advanced critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts related to US grand strategy foreign policy.
  2. Evaluate current US foreign policies across a range of issues and topics.
  3. Critically analyze the US foreign policy-making process and the principal political forces that influence it.
  4. Communicate through empirically grounded and theoretically informed written work and discussions, their understanding of US grand strategy and foreign policy.
Reading List
Brands, Hal (2014) What Good is Grand Strategy? Cornell University Press
Cox, Michael and Doug Stokes (eds.) (2018) U.S. Foreign Policy, Oxford University Press.
Hook, Stephen and Christopher Jones (eds.) (2012) Routledge Handbook of American Foreign Policy, Routledge.
Parmar, Inderjeet (ed.) (2014) Obama and the world: new directions in US foreign policy. Second edition. New York: Routledge.
Reveron, Derek S., Nikolas K. Gvosdev and John A. Cloud (eds.) (2018) The Oxford Handbook of US National Security, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students will have strengthened their skills in:
- Critical thinking through the analysis of US grand strategy and foreign policy
- Research skills through the execution of a research essay and policy brief
- Effective communication skills through discussion, debate, and small-group work
- Working with others in small-group activities and presentations.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Stephen Hill
Tel: (0131 6)51 5362
Course secretaryMr John Riddell
Tel: (0131 6)50 9975
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