The United States and Global Politics after the Cold War - POL00035I

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nick Ritchie
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

This module examines US power and foreign policy in global politics from the end of the Cold War to the present.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

One cannot escape the power of the United States in global politics. The post-Cold War era has been defined as ‘unipolar’ and characterised by informal ‘American empire’. If we want to understand international order we must understand US power in international politics as one of its core features, and vice versa.

This module examines US power and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. The module engages with different understandings of US power and hegemony from within the US and without, and it asks how changes in US power and policies are shaping and have been shaped by wider changes in global politics. It also examines key concepts of legitimacy, exceptionalism, militarism, and international order. This will enable you to analyse and understand foreign policy under the five post-Cold War presidencies of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, in particular, their use of military force.

In doing so, we will examine ‘grand strategies’ of political realism, liberal internationalism and primacy/neo-conservatism, some of the domestic politics of foreign policy. The module will explore the application of these frameworks to a range of strategic security challenges, including ‘rogue’ states, the 'global war on terror', and US relations with Russia and China. The final part of the module will explore the future of US power in the contemporary international security environment amid prognoses of inevitable decline.

The purpose of the module is to enable you to understand, explain and critically engage with US power in international politics since the end of the Cold War based on the core concepts of hegemony, power, and international order and to communicate that understanding effectively through your essay and exam. You will find it helpful to have some background in international politics from your first year.

Module learning outcomes

  • Explain the significance of US power in international politics since the end of the Cold War.
  • Identify and explain competing understandings of US power in terms of ‘grand strategy’ in US foreign policy discourse across successive administrations since the end of the Cold War.
  • Describe, analyse and use contested concepts of power, hegemony, exceptionalism, and legitimacy to explain US power and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.
  • Identify and explain resistances to US power from Russia and China and wider critiques of US power, particularly in response to the ‘global war on terror’.
  • Explain the use of US military power in ‘humanitarian interventions’, against ‘rogue states’ and in the prosecution of the ‘global war on terror’ in terms of the module’s core themes of hegemony and international order.
  • Identify and explain key trends defining US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War and use these to engage with debates on the future of US power and international order.
  • Research and present clear, concise, evidence-based analysis of US power and international order individually and as part of a team.
  • Summarise, evaluate and communicate appropriate concepts, events, and arguments on US power and international order clearly and concisely through structured and evidence-based writing.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
2000 word essay
N/A 40
Open Examination (2 day)
The United States & Global Politics after the Cold War
N/A 60

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
2000 word essay
N/A 40
Open Examination (2 day)
The United States & Global Politics after the Cold War
N/A 60

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutors feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutors regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Michael Cox and Doug Stokes (eds), US Foreign Policy, Oxford University Press, 2018 (3rd edition).

Bryan Mabee, Understanding American Power: The Changing World of US Foreign Policy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Kori Schake, Managing American Hegemony: Essays on Power in a Time of Dominance (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).

Inderjeet Parmer, Linda Miller and Mark Ledwidge (eds.) New Directions in US Foreign Policy, Routledge, 2009.

Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-conservatives and the Global Order, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.