IR448      Half Unit
American Grand Strategy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Peter Trubowitz


This course is available on the MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (Research) and MSc in International Relations Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course will explore American foreign policy at the broadest level of analysis - the level known as grand strategy. The course will showcase the main theoretical perspectives that inform the study of US grand strategy and apply them to historical and contemporary cases of American statecraft. In this connection, we will assess the relevance of the US experience for theorizing about power politics and the implications of alternative theories for thinking critically about American behavior. Students will gain an appreciation of the debates and controversies that animate the study of US foreign policy, as well as of the unique challenges posed by making foreign policy in the American political, economic, and cultural context.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two short essays on questions posed by the instructor. Students will be required to give two in class presentations.

Indicative reading

*Colin Dueck, Reluctant Crusaders (Princeton 2006)
*John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment (Oxford 2005)
*Richard Haass, Foreign Policy Begins at Home (2013)
Charles Kupchan, No One's World (Oxford 2012)
*Kevin Narizny, The Political Economy of Grand Strategy (Cornell 2007)
*David Sanger, Confront and Conceal (Crown 2012)
Elizabeth Saunders, Leaders at War (Cornell 2011)
*Susan Shirk, China: Fragile Superpower (Oxford 2008)
*Peter Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy (Princeton 2011)
Linda Weiss, Hybrid State; Hybrid Capitalism (Cornell 2013)
*Fareed Zakaria, From Wealth to Power (Princeton 1998)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information