module specification

GI7047 - American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 200
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
155 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   1,500 word Area Study
Coursework 70%   3,000 word essay
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

 The broad aim of this module is to develop a grounding in the fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy making in the context of contemporary International Relations and Security Studies, in particular to:

• Analyse the policy making institutions and historical precedents underlying U.S. foreign policy, and to grasp the way those precedents affect America’s approach to global events since the end of the Cold War and the attacks of 9/11.
• Assess the processes and limitations of U.S. foreign policy making, contemporary challenges facing the world and the American role in dealing with them, and expectations of U.S. influence in the world in the 21st Century.
• Place American foreign policy within the larger theoretical frameworks and approaches of International Relations and Security Studies.


 The syllabus will include: Themes in American Foreign Policy; The nature of American Power; The Institutions of U.S. Foreign Policy; Interest Groups, the Media and Public Opinion; National Security Policy; Changing threat perceptions since 9/11; Trade, Investment and Globalisation; Ethics and Human Rights; ‘Declinism’ and American Foreign Policy in the 21st Century.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Teaching consists of a weekly one hour lecture followed by a two hour seminar. Lectures will involve a combination of taught lectures, videos and the use of first hand documents and websites. During the module seminars will combine a variety of methods including discussion based on pre-set questions and role plays. Blended Learning will be a key component of the module. Lecture notes and first hand documents for use in class will be posted on line, as will web links for academic and governmental websites, as well as video links. Lecture recordings will also be made available on line.

Materials for use in class will be posted at least one week in advance on line to allow students to reflect on the subject and prepare. Questions for class discussion will be available from the beginning of the module via the Module Booklet available on weblearn, which will include a list of resources students can use to answer the questions and study the subject in greater depth.

Learning outcomes

 Upon completion of this module students will be better equipped to:
1. Understand the aims and processes of American foreign policy making.
2. Understand the nature and limitations of U.S. international influence.
3. Analyse and understand the changing foreign policy concerns of the U.S.
4. Develop critical abilities to analyse presidential statements, foreign policy establishment writings and government documents as primary and secondary resources for foreign policy study.
5. Enhance the capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.

Assessment strategy

 A formative piece of work in the form of a group role play on a contemporary issue facing American foreign policy makers, which will be peer reviewed in class, will take place mid-module to enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. This will encourage the development of a variety of employability skills including: research involving information retrieval from a variety of primary and secondary resources; analysing and advocating solutions to problems; developing a reasoned argument; exercising critical judgement; communicating effectively; and collaborating with others towards a common goal.  In addition, the group role play will invite students to think and act as a practitioner.

There will be two summative assessments.

The first summative assessment will be a written exercise of 1,500 words in the form of an Area Study, i.e. examining the foreign policy of the U.S. in relation to a particular country or region of the world.

A second summative essay of 3,000 words will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key element of the module. This will encourage the development of a variety of employability skills including: research involving information retrieval from a variety of resources; analysing and advocating solutions to problems; developing a reasoned argument; and exercising critical judgement.  In addition to writing, students will be encouraged to reflect on what they have learnt and make use of constructive feedback.


 Core Reading:

Cox, M., and Stokes, D., eds., (2018) US Foreign Policy, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jentleson, B. (2014), American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century, 5th ed., New York: Norton.

Additional Reading:

Cha, T. (2017), ‘The Return of Jacksonianism: the Implications of the Trump Phenomenon’, The Washington Quarterly, Vol 39: 4, Winter, pp. 83-97.
Dombrowski, P. and Reich, S. (2017) ‘Does Donald Trump have a grand strategy?’, International Affairs, 93: 5 (2017) pp. 1013-1057.
Dueck, C. (2015), The Obama Doctrine: American Grand Strategy Today, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Haass, R. (2017) A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order, New York: Penguin Press.
Mazarr, M. (2017) ‘The Once and Future Order: What Comes After Hegemony?’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 96: 1, pp. 25-32.
Moran, A. (2015), ‘The United States: Finding a Role in the Post- Cold War and Post-9/11 World’, in Malik, S. et al, International Security Studies, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Moran, A. (2017) ‘Barack Obama and the Return of “Declinism”: Rebalancing American Foreign Policy in an Era of Multipolarity,’ in Ashbee, E. and Dumbrell, J., The Obama Presidency and the Politics of Change, London: Palgrave.
National Intelligence Council, (2017) Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, at
Nye, Joseph, (2015), Is the American Century Over?, Cambridge: Polity.
Posen, Barry, (2018) ‘The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony: Trump’s Surprising Grand Strategy’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 97: 2, pp. 20-28.
The USA’s National Security Strategy 2017 available at
Snow, D. (2017) National Security, 6th ed. Abingdon, Oxon. Routledge.
On-line resources include key American foreign policy journals such as: Foreign Policy at www.; Foreign Affairs at; and The Washington Quarterly at www. There are also media sites such as The Washington Post at and The New York Times at

Other indicative websites include:

The White House at
The National Security Council at
The U.S. Department of Defense at
The US Department of State at .
The Central Intelligence Agency at
The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at
The United States House of Representatives Committee on International Relations at

Students will also be encouraged to follow key individuals and organisations on social media platforms, such as Twitter.

Where possible, the most current version of reading materials will be used during the delivery of this module. Comprehensive reading lists will be provided to students in their handbooks. Reading Lists will be updated annually. Weblinks will also be updated regularly.