Understanding Foreign Policy: the Diplomacy of War, Profit and Justice

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR105
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.

This course examines the key concepts and schools of thought in the study of foreign policy. Concentrating on the process of decision making, internal and external factors which influence foreign policy and the instruments available to foreign policy decision makers, the course will provide an understanding of the role and effect that foreign policy has on international politics.

Students will learn about the differing strategies that great powers and small states employ in achieving their aims; the foreign policy challenges posed by terrorism, rogue and failed states; and the significance of new foreign policy powers like China. The classes will combine a discussion of these theories with their application to selected countries in the North, and South, international organisations and transnational actors.

Session: Two
Dates: 13 July – 31 July 2020
Lecturer:  Professor Chris Alden


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment



Programme structure

The principle themes to be addressed by the course are: 

  • How do states formulate and implement their foreign policy?
  • Does leadership make a difference in successful foreign policy?
  • Can national foreign policies ever be ethical?
  • What can states and international organisations do to prevent common threats like terrorism, nuclear proliferation and climate change?
  • Are democracies more likely to pursue aggressive foreign policies than dictatorships?
  • How are the foreign policies of emerging powers reshaping the practices, structure and institutions of the international system?

Course outcomes

At the end of this course students will develop a deeper understanding of the role religion plays and does not play in modern life: do people act and think based on their religions? Or is it just a tool to mobilize them? Can or do religions adopt to modern ways of life? On what bases do religious groups compete or cooperate?


With a vibrant research culture, the LSE Department of International Relations is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and remains a leading world centre for the development of the subject. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission was ranked first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs.         

LSE’s Department of International Relations ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s international relations faculty.

Reading materials

Alden and Amnon Aran, Foreign Policy Analysis: New approaches, 2nd Edition, London: Routledge (2016).

S. Smith, Amelia Hadfield and Tim Dunne, eds., Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases, 3rd Edition, Oxford UP (2016).

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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How to Apply

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Code(s) SS-IR214

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