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 term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Mr Patrick Finnegan

Email: p.finnegan@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

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, , 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, particularly in relation to Brexit. 


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
  • appraise critically contrasting interpretations of Britain's role in the world
  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively 

Additional outcomes:

* Students will develop their effectiveness in both critical analysis and oral presentation

  • 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 module covers topics relating to various aspects of UK foreign and defence policy in post-war era, including military engagements such as the Falklands War, uses of soft and smart power, and key relationships ranging from the UK/US ‘Special relationship’ to the Government’s relationship with the media, nuclear weapons and key strategic partners.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module is taught via13 weekly seminars. The classes require substantial preparatory reading and frequent contributions to discussion by all students.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16 10
Guided independent study 86 88
Total hours by term 102.00 98.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Project output other than dissertation 40
Set exercise 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Three hour examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one 4000 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 4000 word essay in total.


Additionally, there will be a (40%) 3000 word applied writing submission. This will be on an approved question of your choice and is to be completed by the end of the Spring term. This will be accompanied by a formative, question setting, exercise and an additional summative (10%) research plan, due by the first week of Spring Term.

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 Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment 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: 20 April 2018


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