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The United States in Global Politics: Theories and Histories


There are no classes currently available for registration.


This is a credit bearing course but can also be taken as a non-credit bearing course.

Discover the difference between our credit bearing and non-credit bearing courses.

US foreign policy has been a reliable source of controversy and dispute for decades. On The United States in Global Politics - Theories and Histories short course we treat the analysis of US foreign policy through explicitly theoretical and historical lenses.

We consider the rival explanations advanced to best account for the external behaviour of the US: realism, liberalism, isolationism and nationalism. Then we apply these explanations to a systematic historical overview of US engagement with the wider world. You will be asked to assess whether claims that the US is different, or even ‘exceptional’, are valid; how far a distinctive form of American nationalism informs US external behaviour; and what best explains the US approach both over time and in relation to specific challenges.

We aim to cover the following content:

  • Realism, Liberalism, Nationalism
  • Isolation: From the Founding to 1898
  • Retreat and Rise: World Wars I and II
  • Superpower: The Cold War
  • Liberal Hegemony? The Post-Cold War Era
  • Neo-conservatism? George W. Bush and Iraq
  • Liberal Realism? Barack Obama and the Politics of Retrenchment
  • America First? Donald Trump and Joe Biden

By the end of the course, you will have a deeper understanding of US foreign policy and will have developed enhanced critical skills.

Assessment is via a 2500-word essay (90%) and seminar participation (10%).

15 credits at level 6

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    In order to fully engage with the class, you should have some previous knowledge of the subject, for example, by having successfully completed an introductory class at Level 4 (such as the first year of an undergraduate degree or one of our Certificate of Higher Education modules) or by having professional experience in this area.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.