Module Catalogue 2022/23

POL2016 : Foreign Policy Analysis: Theories and Approaches

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Bilsland
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module will introduce students to Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), a growing sub-discipline of International Politics. FPA is a methodologically and theoretically diverse subject which seeks to explain state behavior in the international system. The module will introduce students to the major theories, approaches and debates within FPA.
There are two main aims for this course. First, to develop a well-informed, critical and conceptually sophisticated understanding of foreign policy. Second, to foster an improved grasp of the discipline of politics, especially the concepts, models, theories and methods appropriate to the study of foreign policy.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered may include: 1. The development of foreign policy analysis as a discipline, 2. The agent-structure debate, 3. The policymaking cycle, 4. The rational policymaking model, 5. The organisational process model, 6. The bureaucratic politics model, 7. Realism, 8. Liberalism, 9. Constructivism, 10. Poststructuralism 11. The media and foreign policy.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Following satisfactory progress with this module, students should be able to demonstrate:

• An understanding of Foreign Policy Analysis as a an academic sub-discipline of International Politics.
• An understanding of the relevant actors and processes involved in the making of foreign policy.
• An understanding of the major theories of foreign policy and approaches to the study of foreign policy.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Following satisfactory progress with this module, students should develop:

• Enhanced writing skills.
• Enhanced skill in oral discussion.
• Enhanced skills in analysing, synthesising and critically applying information

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Present-in-person lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Present-in-person seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Synchronous online drop-in surgery Q&A feedback hour
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce students to the key actors, processes, theories and approaches to the study of foreign policy. Lectures will also provide guidance on conducting further, independent research. Seminars will allow students to discuss topics raised by the lecture and seminar reading. The drop in surgery will allow students to ask staff further questions. This will help to deepen students’ understanding of foreign policy and help them to develop their critical thinking, analytical and communication skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination992A602000 word take home exam, 48 hours.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2M401,500 word policy brief
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The policy brief will develop the practical and transferable skills which students will use in the workplace, thus increasing their employability. The unseen written exam will assess students’ understanding of the actors and processes involved in the making of foreign policy. It will also assess their ability to engage critically with theories of foreign policy. Both the policy brief and the 48 hour take home exam will assess students’ research, writing and presentation skills.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.