AH2B04-The Making of British Foreign and Defence Policy

Module Provider: Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Pre-requisites: AH2B01 Studying Leadership Strategic Studies and International Relations AH2B02 Developing Leadership in Others
Non-modular pre-requisites: MA(B)
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Dr Graham O'Dwyer
Email: g.m.odwyer@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

AHEP Online Module

Summary module description:


This module is run by SPEIR

Drawing from the subfields of foreign policy analysis, UK politics, and comparative politics, this module aims to provide students with an enhanced understanding of British foreign and defence policy in a contemporary context.  It places a particular emphasis on how policy is formulated, and on the ideas, values, and assumptions which inform policy.  It also compares British foreign and defence policy with that of other economically advanced states.


The module aims to:

  • Develop knowledge of the various actors and institutions which contribute to the making of British foreign and defence policy, and of the process by which policy is made;

  • Develop understanding of the value of comparative analysis in the context of British foreign and defence policy;

  • Introduce students to some of the key analytical tools and concepts in the context of foreign policy analysis;

  • Cultivate the critical skills, awareness, and understanding necessary to recognize, evaluate, and explain current and future developments in British foreign policy.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the actors and institutions which contribute to the making of British foreign and defence policy;

  • Understanding of the process by which foreign and defence policy is made;

  • Understand a range of ideas, assumptions, and values which drive British foreign policy;

  • Knowledge and understanding of a range of academic argument s concerning British foreign and defence policy;

  • An ability to reflect upon and critically assess foreign policy from a range of perspectives;

  • An ability to reflect critically on the significance of the political context in which the British army must operate and the consequences of this.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to:

  • Develop students’ ability to think critically about the uses and limitations of evidence in relation to British foreign and defence policy;

  • Develop an appreciation of different ways of analysing foreign and defence policy;

  • Develop the knowledge and skills required to understand aspects of contemporary British foreign and defence policy in the broader context of the BSc pathway, which may be applicable in the extended research project.

Outline content:

The module explores a range of topics designed to build on and further develop students’ existing understanding of British foreign and defence policy and how it is made.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students are required to:

  • Work through a series of on-line teaching materials, including slides, videos, and practical activities;

  • Read extensively from the supporting literature;

  • Reflect on the module content and readings individually and through contributions to online discussion fora;

  • Complete a variety of formative on-line tests and exercises that assess knowledge of the module material;

  • Compl ete summative assignments on various aspects of the module.


Contact hours below are shown in the Autumn term for illustrative purposes only. 

For clarity, in the table below, the 'lectures' are online, the 'practical classes and workshops' refer to structured online activities and the 'guided independent study' is broken down into 30 hours of embedded reading and 150 hours of gu ided independent study.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study: 180
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Portfolio 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

No examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Essay 60%

Policy Analysis 40%


Formative assessment methods:

These may include:

• Quizzes and multiple choice questions

• Discussion fora

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module will be applied in accordance with the arrangements for the programme as a whole.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

40% overall

Reassessment arrangements:

Any arrangements for reassessment will be made in accordance with the principles applying to the programme as a whole. 

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 8 April 2021


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