PO3USF-US Foreign and Defence Policy since 1950

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: Dr Vladimir Rauta

Email: v.rauta@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines the foreign and defence policy of the United States from the end of the Second World War to the present, with a focus on understanding US foreign policy processes and institutions. The course addresses three broad questions. Who makes (and influences) US foreign policy? How has US foreign policy changed during this period? What is the global role of US today? By exploring historical and contemporary cases, students will analyse how foreign policy decisions are made, who tries to influence them, and how this has evolved over time. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, students will gain an understanding of crucial events such as the Vietnam War and the intellectual underpinnings of how the United States acts on the world stage. Finally, the course will explore salient challenges faced by US foreign policymakers today.

• To advance students' knowledge of US foreign and defence policymaking processes and history since the end of the Second World War;
•To enable students to understand and analyse the dynamics as well as domestic and international determinants of US foreign and defence policy making;
•To enable students to arrive at informed and critical assessments of the material and objectives of US foreign and defence policy;
•To facilitate student understanding of change and continuity in US foreign and defence policy;
•To enable students to evaluate the outcomes of US foreign policy;
•To enhance students' critical and analytical skills through engaging with diverse and challenging literature and to demonstrate these in policy simulations, discussions, presentations, and written work.

Assessable learning outcomes:
To provide a solid foundation of knowledge of the history and practice of US foreign and defence policy, which will be tested in written work.
To demonstrate an understanding of the policymaking process, substantive issues, and forms of policy writing through the drafting of position papers, issue briefings, and policy memoranda.

Additional outcomes:
Effective oral presentation and collaboration in a simulated policymaking environment
Effective understanding of finding and analysing primary documents related to the making of US foreign policy.
Knowledge of different approaches to understanding and explaining US foreign and defence policy, which can provide a point of departure for further research.
Transferable Skills
Informed and critical approach to using primary and secondary sources through preparation of all coursework.
Enhanced confidence in and effectiveness of oral and written communication through seminar discussions, presentations and written analysis.
Improved time management through meeting deadlines and regular seminar preparation.
Independent and team work through individual and group preparation of coursework.

Outline content:

Week One: Business Meeting and Course Overview

Week Two: Strategic Culture

Week Three: Making US Foreign Policy I

Week Four: Making US Foreign Policy II

Week Five: Making US Foreign Policy III

Week Six: Intellectual Foundations of Post-War Foreign Policy

Week Seven: The Vietnam War

Week Eight: The Gulf War

Week Nine: War on Terror

Week Ten: Simulation

Week Eleven: National Security and Defence Policy

Week Twelve: Economic Statecraft and Transnational Problems

Week Thirteen: Decline and the Pax American

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is taught via thirteen two-hour seminars requiring preparatory reading and research. Students will be required to participate in a policy simulation and structured group discussions

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 16 10
Guided independent study 84 90
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

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

Summative assessment- Examinations:
There is no examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One 3,000 word essay analysing US foreign policy in a specific historical or contemporary case, employing research in both primary and secondary sources.

One 3,000 word simulation report that explores one particular case study from the perspective of a particular institution – such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Department of State.

Coursework components:

-  Essay = 50%

-  Simulation report = 50%

Visiting students who wish to gain full credit will follow the same assessment. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit half of the work, in consultation with the module convenor.

Formative assessment methods:
Students will actively participate in the class simulation. All students are expected to contribute extensively to class debate.

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:

    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: Bruce Jentleson, American Foreign Policy: the dynamics of choice in the 21st century (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013) 5th Edition

    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: 28 September 2018


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