Foreign Policy Analysis - PO924

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 20 (10) DR M Malksoo







Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) is a field of study that analytically straddles international relations and comparative politics. It captures the porousness of the borders between the domestic and international, examining the rich interchanges which happen in between. The module understands foreign policy as a processual, relational and thoroughly political phenomenon. In the ocean of possible methods of study of how state and non-state actors (such as the EU) and various social structures shape (and are shaped by) events and expressions of power across the globe, this module adopts a fourfold approach. First, it analyses foreign policy practices of states from a variety of theoretical perspectives (realist, liberal, constructivist, and critical). It highlights their mutual tensions and complementarities in addressing two central questions of FPA: Why and how do states engage in and articulate cooperation and conflict abroad? Second, having learned about the different conceptual lenses, the module moves on to combine them with a layered understanding of foreign policy practices structured along multiple levels of analysis (international systemic, state, sub-state, and individual). Third, the module will focus on the different foreign policy actors (governments and their bureaucracies, domestic and transnational social groups, individuals, etc.) and conceptual models that explain their decisions and actions in international relations (including the role of power, psychology, and rationality in the dynamics of individual and group-level decision-making). Herein, your understanding of theories will certainly come in handy since they largely inform these more specific models. Finally, we will discuss a set of distinct 'mechanics' of foreign policy, such as power (including preventive and coercive diplomacy, and the questions of ethics) and strategy. The module will conclude with exploring change in foreign policy, revisiting the domestic-international nexus in foreign policy formulation and implementation.

Topics to be discussed
• Foreign Policy Analysis: What, How, and Why?
• Realist and Liberalist approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis
• Constructivist, Poststructuralist, and Critical lenses on Foreign Policy Analysis
• Levels of analysis in Foreign Policy Analysis: international system, the state, and the ‘in-between’
• Levels of analysis in Foreign Policy Analysis: sub-state and the individual
• Diplomacy and diplomats
• Decision-making in foreign policy
• Intelligence, pundits, academia, public opinion, and non-state actors in foreign policy
• Force and power in foreign policy making
• Strategy in foreign policy
• Foreign policy change
• Standing, status, recognition, representations, images, identity and memory in foreign policy analysis
• Models of decision-making
• Analysing foreign policy speeches and strategy documents


This module appears in:


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

1. A 5,000-word essay worth 80% of the total grade for the module. The essay is expected to apply (a) two FPA/IR theoretical paradigms, or (b) a FPA theory and an FPA analytical model, or (c) two FPA analytical models in combination to address a research question of their choice.
2. A foreign policy speech worth 20% of the total grade for the module (to be written and then delivered in the class).

Indicative reading

1. Hudson, Valerie M. (2014) Foreign Policy Analysis: Classic and Contemporary Theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. *key text*
2. Smith, Steve A., Amelia Hadfield-Amkahn, Tim Dunne (eds.) (2012) Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases. Oxford: Oxford University Press. *key text*
3. Bjola, Corneliu and Markus Kornprobst (2013) Understanding International Diplomacy: Theory, Practice and Ethics. Abingdon, Oxon., New York: Routledge.
4. Campbell, David (1998) Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
5. Hill, Christopher (2013) The National Interest in Question: Foreign Policy in Multicultural Societies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. demonstrate systematic understanding of the nature of modern diplomacy, and a critical awareness of the formulation of foreign policy in relation to theories of decision-making;
2. analyse the role of foreign policy and diplomacy in different conceptual approaches in the discipline of IR;
3. analyse foreign policy in terms of both structural aspects and specific motivations;
4. develop an advanced understanding of the main epistemological and methodological issues relevant to foreign policy analysis, including the major theoretical debates between different traditions and their theoretical approaches and ontological concerns, in order to propose new hypotheses where appropriate.

The intended generic learning outcomes
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. work with theoretical knowledge at the forefront of their discipline;
2. be aware of the ethical dimensions of the scholarly work done in their discipline in general as well as of their own work in particular;
3. have a comprehensive understanding of methods and methodologies in their discipline, and practically apply them;
4. undertake analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
5. have a level of conceptual understanding that will allow them to critically evaluate research, advanced scholarship and methodologies and argue alternative approaches;
6. be reflective, creative, original and self-critical in their research work;
7. be able to engage in academic and professional communication orally and in writing;
8. have independent learning ability required for continuing professional study.

By helping students to progress towards these generic learning outcomes, the module contributes to achieving the general aims of our postgraduate programmes, which aim to:

- provide students with an advanced training in their relevant programmes of study;
- develop the students' transferable skills emphasizing research skills, analytical and conceptual skills, independent work and self-organisation;
- develop the ability of students to formulate reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement;
- work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management.

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