Foreign Policy Analysis 1

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Alden CLM.5.13


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course is not examinable as a course in itself.  It can only be taken as an examinable course if taken in conjunction with IR202.2.

Course content

The course analyses various theoretical perspectives on foreign policy, and the means of conduct of the main actors in the international system towards each other. It focuses mainly, but not entirely, on states. Foreign Policy Analysis as a sub-discipline of IR; the problem of formulating goals and choosing policy instruments; the role of leadership and psychological elements in policy making; the rational actor model; bureaucratic politics; the impact of history and identity on foreign policy; domestic sources of foreign policy including public opinion, pressure groups and constitutions; the motivations underpinning foreign policy; the role and influence of transnational actors in relation to foreign policy making; foreign policy crises. The discussion classes combine a discussion of these themes with their application to the foreign policies of major powers in the international system. A detailed programme of lectures will be provided at the start of the session.


10 hours of lectures and 8 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write three essays of about 1,500 words each for their class teachers during the course and to make presentations in the discussion classes.

Indicative reading

C Alden and A Aran, Foreign Policy Analysis – New Approaches, Routledge, 2011; C Hill, The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy, Palgrave, 2003; S Smith, A Hadfield and T Dunne (Eds), Foreign Policies: Theories, Actors and Cases, Oxford University Press, 2007.

A full list of references will be provided at the start of the course.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 13.5
2:1 61.4
2:2 23.7
Third 0.6
Fail 0.8

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2017/18: 139

Average class size 2017/18: 13

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information