Foreign Policy Analysis

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

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, and develops basic policy analysis skills.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of academic literatures and debates on foreign policy
  • Discuss foreign policy as it relates to international relations, international political economy, state theory, theories of state-society relations and discourse analysis
  • Undertake an independent research project focusing on an aspect of foreign policy
  • Critically engage with the academic and policy literature on foreign policy
  • Present and critique competing scholarly arguments
  • Undertake critical analysis of foreign policy




This module will be taught over 10 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week


Method of assessment


Assignment 1: Policy annotation exercise 20%
Assignment 2: Policy analysis exercise 80%


Suggested reading


  • Jutta Weldes, Constructing National Interests (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1999).
  • Frank Fischer et. al. Handbook of Critical Policy Studies (Edward Elgar, 2015)
  • Frank Fischer and Herbert Gottweis. The Argumentative Turn Revisited (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012)
  • Jean-édéric Morin and Jonathan Paquin, Foreign Policy Analysis: A Toolbox (Springer International Publishing AG, 2018)
  • Valerie Hudson, Foreign Policy Analysis: Classic and Contemporary Theories (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules