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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PIED3402 American Foreign Policy

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr Jack Holland

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

America's role in the world has always been controversial but since September 11, 2001 and the Bush administration's response to the terrorist attacks of that day, US foreign policy has become a focal point for thinking about contemporary international relations. This module will introduce students to the different schools of thought on American foreign policy, notably the liberal, realist, neoconservative and critical traditions. This will provide students with the vocabulary to then interpret and assess US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. We will consider why President Bush Jnr. considered it necessary to invade Iraq when his father decided not to and we will examine what impact the Iraq War has had on US perceptions of its role.


On completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate familiarity with the making and conduct of US foreign policy including the central ideological, procedural and historical concepts, the relevant institutions, structures and personalities. They will be able to demonstrate familiarity and critical engagement of central texts on US foreign policy and be able to distinguish authors, locate their opinions on ideological spectrums and critically assess the validity of their views.

On completion of this module students should be able to develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information, exercise critical judgement, and manage and self-critically reflect on, their own learning and make use of constructive feedback. They should be able to communicate effectively and fluently, use communication and information technologies to retrieve and present information. They are expected to work independently and in groups, show initiative, self-organisation and time-management.


The module is split into two parts. The first part deals with Liberal, Realist and Critical perspectives on US foreign policy. Studying these perspectives will enable students to familiarise themselves with the debates on America's role in international society and its influence on global politics.

These perspectives on US foreign policy will then inform an examination of US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, with particular emphasis on America's response to the 9-11 attacks. To put that response in context, the module will examine the foreign policy of the Bush Snr and Clinton administrations.

It will then focus on three issues relevant to the Bush Jnr. administration: the use of force, the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay and its policy of opposing the International Criminal Court. Students should consider taking PIED2463 US Politics before taking this module.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- 10 hours reading/preparation time per seminar: 110 hours
- Assessed essays: 68 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1x 1000 word unassessed essay documentation in preparation for final essay

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 End of Tem Essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 03/05/2023


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