Module code: POL3065

Module Overview

The Trump Presidency has been beset by controversy from its very outset. But in foreign policy, how radical really is the worldview represented by the administration? This module places contemporary US foreign policy in its immediate historic, ideational, bureaucratic, and political context. 

Module provider


Module Leader

GILLESPIE Ciaran (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: L240

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 5

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 17

Captured Content: 17

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The module begins by considering the immediate historic and political drivers that provide the context for Trump's candidacy for President and for the foreign policy worldview his administration represents. We then consider how foreign policy gets formulated in the United States, before studying a number of specific areas in which Trump's foreign policy has distinctive characteristics. The module concludes with a consideration of what Trump's foreign policy tells us about questions of liberal order and American decline.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework CRITIQUE (1,250 WORDS) 30
Coursework ESSAY (2,500 WORDS) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • Analytical and critical skills.

  • The ability to write in depth on a specific area of foreign policy and its conceptual framing. 

Thus, the assessment for this module consists of:

  • a critique of either an overarching theory perspective on US foreign policy, or a treatise on it by a significant states-person or critic.

  • a longer essay on a specified area or era of foreign policy, with an option for an original question designed by student (only with previous sign off on question from module leader). 

Formative assessment and feedback

The critique is designed to equip students with knowledge of the literature and theory required to write analytically and critically on an empirical topic in their essays. Students will also receive advice and feedback on essay preparation (abstracts and plans) if they opt to. The essay is designed to build on this knowledge with further theoretical or empirical development of the subject matter from critique, or in a new area. 

Module aims

  • Build on, develop, refine and apply knowledge acquired in modules such POL1013 Introduction to International Relations, at Level 1; as well as POL2036 International Security, POL2034 International Organisations and POL2030 Theorising International Relations at Level 2.
  • Provide students with a detailed understanding of how American foreign policy operates and the approaches it has historically taken across a range of key issue-areas.
  • Enable students to analyse, understand and critique contemporary American foreign policy.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a clear understanding of the central ideological, theoretical; bureaucratic and historical drivers involved in the making and conduct of contemporary US foreign policy; KCPT
002 Critically engage with contemporary themes in US foreign policy and be able to distinguish them from historical antecedents; KCT
003 Apply theoretical frameworks to policy/empirical analysis. KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Encourage student independence in learning and teaching.

Encourage the sharing of literature, theory and knowledge in a collaborative environment.

Encourage analytical and critical thought.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Each week, one-hour lectures will introduce students to the subject matter, which will subsequently be discussed in weekly hour-long seminars. Students will be expected to contribute actively during discussion, having prepared to answer a specific question based on between one and three key readings for the week.  Three different questions and readings will be set to create a division of labour for the students and maximise learning.  This requires all students to prepare each week for the topic.  The set up of seminars and group work will be discussed during the first class.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL3065

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Public Affairs MPA 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics with Creative Writing BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Relations BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Economics BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2022/3 academic year.