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Sanctions and Statecraft

Key information

Subject area:

Public Policy, Politics & Security

Course type:

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Credit level:

Not for credit


5 hours (self-paced)

Available course dates:

From: 09 March 2023 To: 09 March 2025

Course overview

This course seeks to provide students with a general understanding of sanctions, defined as the restrictive measures imposed by states or groups of states to achieve coercive influence in the international system. Sanctions are among the most frequently used tools of diplomacy. For many states, they form an important part of foreign policy and they are regularly deployed in pursuit of foreign policy objectives.

The overall aims of this course are to:

  • Explore the nature and purpose of sanctions
  • Examine how sanctions are designed and used as tools of foreign policy in different contexts
  • Consider how sanctions are challenged by state and non-state actors
  • Explore the concept of sanctions evasion and what this looks like in practice

This is a self-paced online course where students can access and work through the material at their own convenience. You will have access to the course for 3 months. 

What does this course cover?

The course begins by considering the nature and purpose of sanctions, and how these measures are used as tools of coercive diplomacy. The early part of the course will also place sanctions in historical context, to give students an understanding of where the concept comes from and how it has changed over time. A particular point of focus will be the shift from comprehensive sanctions to the approach based on ‘smart’ or ‘targeted’ sanctions that dominates thinking today.

Building on this, the course will then move to explore the design and implementation of sanctions. Students will learn about the major sanctions actors, multilateral and unilateral, and gain insight into how sanctions regimes are developed by various actors. Finally, the course will examine some of the ways in which targeted state and non-state actors challenge and respond to sanctions. Efforts to resist or circumvent sanctions are significant, both in terms of efforts to implement sanctions effectively and their broader value as tools that can help regulate behaviour in the international system.

Illustrative examples, both historical and contemporary, are used throughout the course and learning will be consolidated through various activities that accompany each lesson. Ultimately, students will leave the course with a solid understanding of key issues related to sanctions and their function as tools of coercive diplomacy.

What will I achieve?

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain what sanctions are, what their purpose is and how their use has evolved over time
  • Analyse the significance of sanctions as a foreign policy tool used to achieve coercive influence
  • Explain and evaluate dominant theories regarding the effectiveness of sanctions
  • Evaluate the challenges posed by the use of sanctions
  • Explain the key features of multilateral and unilateral sanctions
  • Analyse the significance of pursuing unilateral versus multilateral sanctions as part of a broader foreign policy strategy
  • Understand the various ways in which state and non-state actors challenge sanctions
  • Explain the concept of sanctions evasion and evaluate the significance of sanctions evasion in disrupting the effectiveness of sanctions

Who will I learn with?

Matthew Moran

Matthew Moran

Head of the Department of War Studies

Who is this for?

There are no formal education or professional requirements, however, all learning will be delivered in English, therefore we recommend minimum IELTS Level 6 for learners to get the most from the spoken and written content.

Course status:


Full fee £450

King's Students, Alumni & Staff £382.50

Terms and Conditions



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