SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Foreign Policy Analysis

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

The aim of this module is to provide students with a critical introduction to the subfield of foreign policy analysis (FPA). The general theme of the module might be summarised as ‘from foreign policy to state action’. From its origins in the classic works of Snyder, Bruck and Sapin and the Sprouts, foreign policy analysis has been shaped by a particular set of premises that have determined the ways in which the field has developed. Specifically, foreign policy has been equated with decision-making and studied on the basis of individualist, positivist and liberal assumptions as the external projection of processes internal to the nation-state. The vast bulk of conceptual, theoretical and empirical work has focused on the United States. Over time, these assumptions have been increasingly questioned. Foreign policy has come to be seen as a social activity that often transcends state boundaries, and studied in post-positivist ways. The module introduces students to the core assumptions and models that have structured the field.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • An understanding of academic literatures and debates on foreign policy
  • The ability to present theories, models and approaches that help students to explain and understand foreign policy
  • The ability to discuss foreign policy as it relates to international relations, international political economy, state theory, theories of state-society relations, and discourse analysis
  • The ability to undertake an independent research project focusing on an aspect of foreign policy
  • The ability to critically engage with the academic and policy literature on foreign policy
  • The ability to present and critique competing scholarly arguments


  • One hour lecture per week
  • One hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by 100% coursework, in the form of one 5000 word essay.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules