IR448      Half Unit
American Grand Strategy

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Peter Trubowitz CBG 10.16


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

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for most students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

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 behaviour. 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 AT.

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

Formative coursework

Students will write short weekly blog posts on Moodle and provide an 800-word outline of their assessed essay by the end of Week 8. This will be returned by the end of AT.

Indicative reading

• John Lewis Gadds, Strategies of Containment (2005)

• Peter Trubowitz, Politics and Strategy (Princeton 2011)

• Linda Weiss, America Inc.? (Cornell 2014)

• Rebecca Thorpe, The American Warfare State (Chicago 2014)

• Fareed Zakaria, From Wealth to Power (Princeton 1998)

• Robert Kagan, The Jungle Grows Back (Knopf, 2018)

• Joan Hoff, A Faustian Foreign Policy (Cambridge 2008)


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the WT.

Students will write a 4,000-word assessed essay selecting from a list of topics and questions provided by the course coordinator. The essay will be due in Week 1 of the WT.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2022/23: 44

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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