PO3BFD-British Foreign and Defence Policy since 1945

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Graham O'Dwyer

Email: g.m.odwyer@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The purpose of this unit is to encourage students to critically evaluate Britain's foreign and security policy record in the post-war era. It begins by examining how competing groups influence foreign policy formation and public opinion. The course then moves on to examine the end of the British Empire, the development of the Commonwealth, the nature of Britain’s relationship with the US and Britain’s sometimes ‘awkward’ relationship with other European states. The course then critically examines a series of major post-war challenges – the Suez crisis, British involvement in Indonesia and East Timor, the Falklands War, British involvement in the arms trade, its retention of nuclear weapons, the impact of New Labour on British foreign policy including the conflict in Iraq. The course concludes with an exercise assessing the UK's place in the world today and strategy for the future. This unit makes extensive use of documentaries in seminars and frequent use of declassified government files. There will also be the opportunity to visit Westminster during Spring Term for an ‘expert witness’ session on making Foreign Policy.


Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • identify and explain the main features of British Foreign and Defence Policy
  • locate and assemble information on the subject by their own research
  • appraise critically contrasting interpretations of Britain's role in the world
  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively

Additional outcomes:

  • Effective oral presentation of critical analysis
  • Informed and critical approach to using primary and secondary sources
  • Enhanced confidence in and effectiveness of oral and written communication through seminar
discussions, presentations and essays
  • improved time management through meeting deadlines and regular seminar preparation

Outline content:
The following content is indicative of the topics studied during the module and the overall structure of the module.
Week one: Business meeting, study skills summary and course overview lecture
Week two: Influences on Policy Formation
Week three: The Media and Foreign Policy
Week four: Britain, the Empire and the Commonwealth
Week five: Britain and the USA
Week six: Britain within Europe
Week seven: The Suez Crisis
Week eight: Indonesia and East Timor
Week nine: Britain and the Falklands War
Week ten: Britain and the Arms Trade
Week eleven: Britain and Nuclear Weapons
Week twelve: New Labour and Foreign Policy
Week thirteen: Britain's place in the world

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module is taught via thirteen two hour seminars. The classes require substantial preparatory reading and frequent contributions to discussion by all students.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16 10
External visits 8
Guided independent study 86 80
Total hours by term 102.00 98.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one 3,500 word essay which comprises 50% of the overall module mark. Non-submitted essays will be awarded a mark of zero.

Visiting students will follow the same assessments for full credits. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one 3,500 word essay in total.

Formative assessment methods:
Students will make oral outline presentations which will form the basis of seminar discussion. All students are expected to contribute extensively to class debate. Presentations will be 15 minutes long.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    Three hour examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Candidates who fail their final year normally have the right to be re-examined on one further occasion at the next opportunity. These candidates will not normally be eligible for Honours (ie., only a ‘Pass’ classification would be attainable). Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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