module specification

GI5005S - Approaches to International Relations and Foreign Policy (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Approaches to International Relations and Foreign Policy
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 150
42 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
108 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Essay (2000 words)
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

One of the central questions for the discipline of International Relations is to explain the behaviour of states in the international system. The module approaches this question from the perspective of foreign policy analysis, focusing on the decisions, structures and processes within states that produce international action. It examines both models of foreign policy decision making and comparative national approaches to foreign policy.


What is foreign policy? LO1
The ‘level of analysis problem’ and state-centric approaches LO1,LO2
Rational action in foreign policy LO3
The role of bureaucracies and organisations in foreign policy making LO2,LO3
Pluralism and the breakdown of international and national barriers LO2
Economics, public opinion and other domestic variables LO1,LO2
Belief systems and foreign policy decisions LO2
Case studies such as the United States, Russia, the UK and developing countries. LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Most weeks teaching will consist of a two-hour combined lecture and workshop and a one-hour seminar. Each lecture/workshop will comprise an interactive lecture followed by an activity undertaken by small groups, with the result of these activities fed back in a plenary session towards the end of the two-hour session. The seminar will involve small group discussions, debates and group work.

The module makes extensive use of blended learning, with full use of the dedicated WebLearn site for the module.

Reflective and independent learning will be encouraged through the regular interactive lectures and seminar discussions. Students will be required to attend all classes, to engage in the set activities, to prepare in advance by attempting assigned readings, to complete coursework ahead of deadlines, to access markers’ comments on their work and act on the feedback they receive.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of foreign policy.
2. Investigate what domestic and international level variables influence foreign policy decisions.
3. Apply foreign policy theories and models to decision-making.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed by a 2000 word essay.


Core Readings
Allison, G. and Zelikow, P. (1999) Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd edition. London: Pearson
Smith, S., Hadfield, A., and Dunne, T. (eds) (2016) Foreign Policy: Theory, Actors, Cases, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Additional Readings
Alden, C. and Aran, A. (2016) Foreign Policy Analysis: New Approaches, 2nd edition. London: Routledge
Calvert, C. (1986) The Foreign Policy of New States. London: Wheatsheaf
Gaskarth, J. (2013) British Foreign Policy: Crises, Conflicts and Future Challenges. Cambridge: Polity
Hill, C. (2016) Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century, 2nd edition. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Ralph, J. (2011) “After Chilcot: The “Doctrine of International Community” and the UK Decision to invade Iraq”, British Journal of Politics and international Relations, 13: 3
Weber, M. and Smith, M. (2002) Foreign Policy in a Transformed World. New York: Prentice Hall