Contemporary Foreign Policy in Practice

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Christopher Alden CLM.5.13


This course is compulsory on the BSc in International Relations. This course is available on the BSc in International Relations and History. 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. It is only available as credit for General Course students as part of IR202 as a whole.

Course content

The foreign policies and foreign policy processes of selected major states since 1945, depending on examination requirements and teachers available. An analysis of the foreign policies of a selected group of major states, with due regard to their respective national interests, external commitments, traditional values and other relevant factors. The role of internal group interests and electoral considerations. Constitutional machinery for the formulation of foreign policy. Diplomatic services and techniques. Illustrative material will be drawn mainly from the post-1945 period. This year there will be lectures on Britain, China, the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia. Additional country case studies will be included for the remainder of lectures including some or all of the following: Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, India and Japan.


15 hours of lectures in the LT.

Indicative reading

Recommended texts include

(a) The United States: J Ikenberry (Ed), American Unrivaled: the Future of the Balance of Power (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP 2002); N Ferguson, Colossus: the Price of American Empire (New York: Penguin 2004); C Kegley & E Wittkopf, American Foreign Policy: Patterns and Process (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1996).

(b) The United Kingdom: M Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy Since 1945 (London: Zed Press, 1995); J Dumbrell, A Special Relationship: Anglo-American relations in the Cold War and after, Palgrave, 2001.

(c) The Soviet Union/Russia: R Donaldson & J Nogee, The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests (London: M E Sharpe, 1998); F Fleron, et al (Eds), Classic Issues in Soviet Foreign Policy: From Lenin to Brezhnev (New York, Aldine de Gruyter, 1991); F Fleron, et al (Eds), Contemporary Issues in Soviet Foreign Policy: From Brezhnev to Gorbachev (New York, Aldine de Gruyter, 1991).

(d) China: T W Robinson & D Shambaugh (Eds), Chinese Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994); S Zhao (Ed), Chinese Foreign Policy: Pragmatism and Strategic Behavior (Armonk, NY, M E Sharpe, 2003), David M. Lampton (Ed), The Making of Chinese Foreign and Security Policy in the Era of Reform (Stanford UP 2001).

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information