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German Foreign Policy (Module)

Module description

The module examines the main actors, issues and concepts in German post-war foreign policy. Building on theories and instruments of Foreign Policy Analysis, this option investigates domestic, international, and cultural forces that have shaped the formulation and implementation of German foreign policy. The module places special emphasis on the much-debated question as to whether contemporary German foreign policy after unification is marked by continuity or change and how unification has altered the Federal Republic’s position in the international arena. Issues to be covered include Germany’s role in the EU and its approach to the use of military force.

Module aims

The module aims to

  • introduce students to concepts, theories and methods in Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA);
  • apply these instruments of FPA to the study of German foreign policy;
  • give students a deeper understanding of the historical context, current challenges and the main driving forces in German foreign policy;
  • examine the German foreign policy decision-making process, including its main actors and institutional or normative parameters;
  • critically discuss structural and attitudinal changes and continuities in post-unification German foreign policy.

Learning outcomes

  • Students will acquire competences to choose and critically apply different theoretical approaches in FPA to the study of German foreign policy.
  • Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the main issues and actors in contemporary German foreign policy.
  • Students will be able to appreciate and critically analyse the historical context of German foreign policy as well as the main features of the foreign policy decision-making process in Germany.
  • Students will be able to apply their skills of research, textual interpretation and analysis at an advanced level.
  • Students will develop their confidence and communication skills to participate constructively in debates within class and clearly articulate their informed judgements in a way relevant to public discourse.

Core texts

  • Haftendorn, H.: Coming of Age: German Foreign Policy since 1945 (Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).
  • Hudson, V.: Foreign Policy Analysis. Classic and Contemporary Theory (Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
  • Maull, H. W. (ed.): Germany’s Uncertain Power: Foreign Policy of the Berlin Republic (Houndsmills, Palgrave, 2006).
  • Maull, H. W. and S. Harnisch: Germany as a Civilian Power? (Manchester, Manchester UP, 2001).
  • Rittberger, V. (ed.): German Foreign Policy since Unification. Theories and Case Studies (Manchester, Manchester UP, 2001).

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.

Staff information

Dr Holger Stritzel

Teaching pattern

Two hours per week

Indicative teaching schedule

1. Introduction
2. Power politics: German foreign policy until 1945
3. The foreign policy tiers of post-war Germany: “Westbindung” and “Ostpolitik”
4. The polity of Germany’s foreign policy
5. German foreign economic policy
6. Political culture and national identity in German foreign policy
7. Germany and Europe integration
8. Germany and the transatlantic relationship
9. German-Russian relations
10. Germany after unification: still a civilian power?


Module assessment - more information

Presentation and tutorial participation (15%); 3000 word essay (85%)

Key information

Module code 6AAOB309

Credit level 6

Assessment coursework presentation/s

Credit value 15

Semester Semester 1 (autumn)

Study abroad module Yes