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Level 5

5AAH1013 British Foreign Policy in the Age of Palmerston: c.1815-c.1865

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Gabriel Mesevage
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 1,500-word formative essay, 1 x 3,000-word essay (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pre 2019/20: 2 x 2,500 word essays (100%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years

British diplomacy dealt with a variety of international crises in the early and mid nineteenth century. Reconstructing a balance of power in Europe and the break-up of the Spanish empire in the New World dominated the decade after 1815. In the 1830s problems arose from the Belgian revolt, civil wars in the Iberian peninsula and military conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean, followed by a war with China and an entente and subsequently deteriorating relations with France in the 1840s. Most of these crises were handled by Lord Palmerston as Foreign Secretary, before he became Prime Minister in 1855 during the Crimean War. The module concludes with the difficulties caused to Britain by civil war in America and Palmerston’s efforts, in the end successful, to avoid being drawn into that conflict.

Provisional teaching plan

1.   Economy and Naval Power
2.   Reconstructing the World 1815-1830
3.   Palmerston in Office 1830-1841
4.   Eastern Crisis 1833-1841
5.   Entente Cordiale 1841-1846
6.   Nationalism and Revolution in Europe 1848-1861
7.   Crimean War
8.   Suppressing the Slave Trade
9.   Far East 1853-1865
10. Civil War in America 1861-1865

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • D. Brown, Palmerston (2010)
  • T.G. Otte (ed), Makers of British Foreign Policy from Pitt to Thatcher (2001)
  • R. Bridge & R. Bullen, Britain and the Great Powers 1815-1914 (1980)
  • C.J. Bartlett, Defence and Diplomacy (1993)
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