Module code: POL3065

Module Overview

Following one of the most controversial administrations in recent history, this module situates the Trump presidency in the context of other executives and considers to what extent this period was a major departure for norms and strategy in US foreign policy. It considers recent history, theory and key concepts to reflect on the impact both for US power projection, and on world politics more generally.

Module provider


Module Leader

GILLESPIE Ciaran (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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 represented. 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 had distinctive characteristics. We look at a range of global challenges that the US continues to face and consider the extent to which the subsequent administration has responded to these problem areas, considering the relative power of the US, leading strategic ideas and the considerations of American ‘Decline.’ We conclude by looking at the way US foreign policy is in a state of transition, following Trump's era.

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.

  • The ability to work independently to produce professional grade research in a specific window of time

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 statesperson

  • 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.

Students will need to demonstrate a range of key skills in the assessment; digital skills in research; resilience and resourcefulness in the production of this research; employability skills in their communication and presentation of this research; knowledge of global systems.

Module aims

  • Build on, develop, refine and apply knowledge acquired in modules such POL1013 Introduction to International Relations, at Level 4; as well as POL2036 International Security, POL2034 International Organisations and POL2030 Theorising International Relations at Level 5.
  • 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.
  • Develop professional policy analysis skills through critical reading of policy pronouncements

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
004 Development of key academic and professional skills in both seminar discussions (global and cultural intelligence) and through assessments that test digital skills, resourcefulness, and resilience. CPT
005 Development of sector knowledge for enhanced employability KPT
006 Reflection on key challenges in international public policy, such as international climate change agreements (sustainability) and difficult policy areas such as the War on Terror that require sensitivity (resilience) and empathy (global cultural intelligence) in discussion. KCPT

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
Law with International Relations LLB (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
Politics and Economics 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

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 2025/6 academic year.