IR317      Half Unit
American Grand Strategy

This information is for the 2014/15 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Peter Trubowitz


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



Course content

This course explores American foreign policy at the broadest level of analysis – the level known as grand strategy. The course showcases the main theoretical perspectives that inform the study of grand strategy and applies them to historical and contemporary cases of American statecraft. In this connection, we will assess the relevance of the U.S. experience for theorizing about power politics and the implications of alternative theories for thinking critically about American international behavior. Emphasis is placed on the debates and controversies that animate the study of grand strategy, 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 classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Short weekly posts on the Moodle course page.

Indicative reading

  • G. John Ikenberry and Peter L. Trubowitz, American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, revised edition (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  •  David Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and the Surprising Use of American Power (Broadway Books, 2013)
  • Adam Garfinkle, Broken: American Political Dysfunction and What to Do About It (American Interest, 2013)


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

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2013/14: Unavailable

Average class size 2013/14: Unavailable

Capped 2013/14: No

Lecture capture used 2013/14: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication