The academic study of international relations and the actual conduct of foreign affairs are two separate endeavors. From the comfort of a seminar room it is relatively easy to advance simple theories or explanations as to how a state should conduct its foreign policy. It is quite another thing to know which of these abstract options is a government’s optimal choice. This course seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice by offering an introduction into the world of diplomacy and statecraft. In particular, it examines the strengths and limitations of the tools of hard and soft power harnessed by statesmen to influence world politics. What is the best way for countries as diverse as the UK, China, or Nigeria to advance their interests in the world? What levers of influence are available for dealing with North Korea, Iran, or the present conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, or the Congo? Is there an optimal strategy for maximizing short-term opportunity and long-term goals? Even if such a strategy can be conceived, can it be implemented?
The first part of the course examines the ability of states to act strategically. Attention then turns to the use of military force—which has often been described as the ultima ratio of international politics—as a rational tool of state policy. The third section turns to so-called “asymmetric” threats including terrorism, cyber warfare and the impact of social media on statecraft. The fourth part of the course investigates diplomatic intercourse and the attractive power of so-called “soft power” as well as the various “carrots and sticks” of international influence beyond the use of force. The final section examines economic statecraft and explores strategic rationale for the use of foreign aid, trade and sanctions as well as the theoretical debates over their effectiveness.
*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.
Dr Walter C Ladwig III*
Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.
Module assessment - more information
Coursework & Exam*