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The 9/11 Era (Module)

Module description

Background & Aims

This course will address the ‘9/11 era’ as a set of western foreign and security policy responses to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, right up to the present day. It will examine the process of official decision-making, analysing the ideas and debates that underpinned Anglo-American governmental policies (the Washington-London axis). It will evaluate the decisions that were made and assess their consequences (including intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and non- intervention in Syria). In essence, the course is about national security, contemporary foreign policy and decision –making.

The course will begin with the context/pre-history to the 9/11 era by looking at British and American foreign policy in the 1990s. It will consider the debates that were had about the position of the West in a unipolar world and the possible democratisation of the Middle East. It will address liberal interventionism, democratic geo-politics, the Blair-Bush relationship and the foreign policies of Brown, Cameron and Obama. It will go right up the present day and discuss the effects of the Arab spring, the rise of ISIS and the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration’s foreign policy.

The aims of the module are:

  • to study the ‘War on Terror’, broadly encompassing the period from the attacks of 11 September 2001 to the rise of ISIS, through the Bush and Obama presidencies and beyond;
  • to examine the foreign and security policies adopted by the United States and the United Kingdom (and their allies) during this period, and to evaluate their successes and failures; 
  • to better understand those responses by placing them in context and tracing the evolution of ideas and foreign policy traditions in this unique period;
  • to provide a dispassionate analysis of the policy-making process.

Learning Outcomes

The emphasis is on critical thinking and applied knowledge. We will ask you to understand the context in which foreign policy decisions were made. But we will also ask you to criticise tactics and strategy, and to offer your own alternatives.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be expected to demonstrate:

  • a knowledge of the pre-history of 9/11 and the foreign policy traditions which existed in London and Washington DC before this ten-year period; 
  • a forensic and evidence-based understanding of the period known as 'the War on Terror'; 
  • the ability to place issues of ongoing political controversy in context and perspective; 
  • critical insight into the balancing of ideas and circumstances in the policymaking process; 
  • critical knowledge of the various policy debates and the decisions which were taken during this period; 
  • a substantive appreciation of the complexities and key issues which defined the period of the ‘9-11 era’ and the foreign policy dilemmas which it still causes today; 
  • An ability to think like a policy maker. 

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

Staff information

Dr Barbara Zanchetta*

Teaching pattern

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 only*

Key information

Module code 6SSW3023

Credit level 6

Assessment coursework

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module No