Political Strategy - PO903

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 7 20 (10) DR B Savic checkmark-circle


This class offers a threefold approach to the study of strategy and power. First, it introduces political strategy as context, structure and actor-specific, and offers non-technical and accessible introductions to game theory, case studies, and Foucauldian discourse analysis as methods useful in the analysis of strategy and power. Second, to convey the context-specific nature of political strategy, the course allocates six weeks to applied analyses of three contemporary case studies. They examine strategic behaviors of state and non-state actors and the relations of power in which they operate. Third, the course concludes with an in-class strategic exercise simulating the work of - and negotiations in - a major intergovernmental institution.


This module appears in the following module collections.


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

There are two components to a student's final mark in this module.
First, students will write a succinct strategy paper (up to1,000 words) in preparation for a simulation exercise on international institutional bargaining and negotiation dynamics. They will be assigned country roles and will be expected to articulate a country position (negotiator’s mandate) and negotiation strategy (different options, timing, possible coalitions, fall- back options, alternatives, etc.) in their strategy paper.
This component will count as 20% of a student’s final mark.

Second, students are expected to write a research essay of approximately 5,000 words addressing issues of or questions discussed in lectures, seminars and/or the assigned readings. Essays are expected to demonstrate one’s ability to think conceptually and use theory and specific analytical models in argumentation. The first component of assessment helps to prepare the student for this final assignment. This component will count 80% toward a student’s final mark.

Indicative reading

Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce Principles of International Politics. 5th ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press. 2014
Daniel M. Shea and Michael John Burton, Campaign Craft: The Strategies, Tactics, and Art of Political Campaign Management (Praeger Series in Political Communication). Praeger Publishers Inc., 4th Revised edition, 2010.
DeNardo, James. Power in Numbers: The Political Strategy of Protest and Rebellion. Princeton: Princeton University Press.1985
Dixit, Avinash K. and Nalebuff, Barry J. J. The Art of Strategy. New York: W.W. Norton. 2008
Dixit, Avinash K., Reiley, David H. and Skeath, Susan, Games of Strategy. 3rd ed., New York: W.W. Norton. 2014
Doron, Gideon and Itai Sened. Political Bargaining: Theory, Practice and Process. London: Sage. 2001
Gouliamos, Kostas, Theocharous, Antonis and Newman, Bruce I.(eds.) Political Marketing: Strategic 'Campaign Culture'. New York: Routledge, 2013
Green-Pedersen, Christoffer and Walgrave, Stefaan (eds). Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems: A Comparative Approach. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014
Jain, Vinod K. Global Strategy: Competing in the Connected Economy. New York: Routledge, 2017
Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2013
Paroutis, Sotirios, Heracleous, Loizos and Angwin, Duncan. Practicing Strategy: Text and Cases. 2nd Edition London: Sage, 2016
Schelling, Thomas C. The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963.
Simons, Jonathan. Foucault and the Political. 2nd Edition. New York: Routledge, 2002
Van Schendelen, M.P.C.M, and Rinus Van Schendelen. Machiavelli in Brussels: The Art of Lobbying the EU, 2nd Edition. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 2005
van Ham, Peter. Social Power in International Politics. New York: Routledge, 2010
Watson, Joel. Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory. 3rd ed., New York: W.W. Norton. 2013

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. work with theoretical knowledge and apply theory to empirical issues and will have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, policies, and social practices;
2: be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline as well as in their own work;

3: be able to undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge and make carefully constructed arguments;
4: be reflective and self-critical in their work and will have independent learning ability required for further study or professional work;
5: be able to use the Internet, bibliographic search engines, online resources, and effectively conduct research;
6: be able to engage in academic and professional communication with others.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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