AHME01-Contemporary British Foreign Policy: Issues, themes and challenges

Module Provider: Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites: ICSC(L)
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Dr Adam Humphreys
Email: a.r.humphreys@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

AHEP online module

Summary module description:



This module is run by SPEIR. 


This module provides an advanced introduction to the academic study of contemporary British foreign policy.  It explores the political context, both domestic and international, in relation to which the Army must operate and contextualizes the UK military as one among a number of instruments the UK uses to pursue its interests. 


The module aims to help students:  

  • Develop a deeper understanding of the UK’s foreign policy stance and goals and of the range of instruments through which the UK pursues those goals; 

  • Understand and critically evaluate recent theoretical and conceptual work on a range of topics pertaining to contemporary British foreign policy; 

  • Reflect on and develop the capacity to explain the implications of selected theories for UK foreign policy and for the British Army. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

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

  • Demonstrate understanding of a range of means by which the UK seeks to promote its interests; 

  • Contextualize the role of the military instrument as a part of UK foreign and defence policy; 

  • Engage critically with theoretical debates relevant to con temporary British foreign policy; 

  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and evidence, both abstractly and in relation to contemporary developments in British foreign policy; 

  • Reflect critically on the significance of the module subject matter for the Army and for officers’ roles within the Army. 

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to: 

  • Develop students’ ability to reflect on and critically evaluate the foreign policy choices the UK has made and will make in the future, the range of possible alternatives, and the implications for the British Army; 

  • Develop the knowledge and skills required to undertake an extended research project on aspects of contemporary British foreign policy in the broader context of the MSc Executive pathway. 

Outline content:

The module explores a range of topics designed to build on and further develop students’ existing understanding of the contemporary security environment, of British foreign policy, and of the range of tools the UK uses to promote its interests.  It focuses, in particular, on theories designed to help students critically evaluate the options open to the UK when confronting particular kinds of problems and to assess the choices 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; 

  • Complete summative assignments on various aspects of the module.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 6
Practicals classes and workshops 6
Guided independent study: 88
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Portfolio 40
Set exercise 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

No examinations

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Essay (1500 Words) 50%

Reflective Portfolio 40%

Participation and Engagement (referred to as 'Set Exercise' in summative assessment table above) 10%

Formative assessment methods:

These may include: 

  • Quizzes and multiple-choice questions 

  • Reflective tasks 

  • Discussion forums 

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the arrangements as laid out in the programme guide. 


Assessment requirements for a pass:

Module pass mark of 50%

Reassessment arrangements:

These are in accordance with the arrangements for resubmission as laid out in the programme guide.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

These are in accordance with the arrangements for resubmission as laid out in the programme guide.

Last updated: 8 April 2021


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