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2021 Spring

BRITISH FOREIGN POLICY - IRS349 Spring 2021


Course
Gerald Power
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

Lessons

Here is the course outline:

1. Session 1

What is British foreign policy and why does it matter? This introductory session explores these fundamental questions including reference to: * the historical background * overview of Britain’s global role in the twentieth century * the mechanics of British foreign policy.

2. Session 2 The Era of World War I

What motivated Britain to go to war, and did the First World War result in a pyrrhic victory for Britain? Here, we examine how Britain responded to an unprecedented and shocking disruption to the international system.

3. Session 3 The Price of Security

Did British policy facilitate Hitler’s Germany? This discussion looks at Britain between the two World Wars, and notes the difficulties faced by the country in shaping international politics in the period.

4. Session 4 World War II

Was it really the ‘finest hour’, as Churchill insisted? This lecture deals with Britain and the Second World War, a conflict with some similarities but also some major contrasts with World War I.

5. Session 5 Circles of Power, 1945-55

What was Britain’s contribution to the early Cold War? While many assume that British ‘decline’ was firmly established by 1945, there is much evidence that this is not how British policy-makers saw things, and foreign policy appears to reflect this.

6. Session 6 Suez and After, 1956-70

How pivotal was the Suez Crisis? We survey the impact of Britain’s unsuccessful war with Egypt in 1956 and chart the reorientation of British policy that followed.

7. Session 7 Mid Term Exam

The exam can be completed either in class or at home (depending, of course, on the current COVID situation). Each student will be given one essay question at the beginning of class and has until the end of the class time to submit their essay via NEO LMS. Each essay is to be 900-1,100 words in length (excluding title page and bibliography). Any relevant source can be utilised

8. Session 8 The 1970s and Europe

Has Britain always been a ‘reluctant European’? This class looks at the UK’s accession to the EEC and its early involvement as a European partner. We explore the relationship between EEC membership and Britain’s global power and role.

9. Session 9 The Thatcher Era, 1979-90

How metallic was the Iron Lady? Margaret Thatcher relied quite heavily on her image as a tough defender of British national interests abroad, but this lecture will show that on some important foreign policy issues, the prime minister was more willing to compromise than is sometimes thought.

10. Session 10 New World Order, 1990-1997

How did Britain adjust from the Cold War pattern to a new world characterized by multiple regional conflicts, closer European integration and globalization? We look at the premiership of John Major, and try to see why he is often judged to have failed to steer a clear path for Britain in this new global system.

11. Session 10 The Blair Era, 1997-2007

Why is Blair the most controversial foreign policy chief since Neville Chamberlain? This lecture involves much discussion of the decision to go to war against Iraq, but also requires a deeper discussion of Blair’s idealism and positions on America, Europe and Africa.

12. Session 12 Decisions: British Foreign Policy after 2007

What is Britain in the world – a connecting ‘bridge’ or an isolated island? This discussion looks at the struggle to find a consistent and clear role for Britain after 2007 that satisfied political elites and public. Arguably the failure to find such a role culminated in Brexit.

13. Session 13 Group Presentations

Each of the four groups will deliver a twenty-minute oral presentation (with an accompanying visual aid, such as PowerPoint) on a specific theme in British foreign policy, using the reading suggestions contained in this syllabus. The presentation aims to offer a critical overview of the scholarship and to show the group’s own overall interpretation/view of the problem

14. Session 14 Final Exam

The exam can be completed either in class or at home (depending, of course, on the current COVID situation). Each student will be given one essay question at the beginning of class and has until the end of the class time to submit their essay via NEO LMS. Each essay is to be 900-1,100 words in length (excluding title page and references). Any relevant source can be utilised.

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