Course Title: Contemporary Foreign Policy

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Contemporary Foreign Policy

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Assoc Prof Aiden Warren

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3758

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.05.26

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course is designed to provide you with the tools to analyse contemporary foreign policy. Using the United States as the case study you will look at how foreign policy is conceptualised, constructed and executed. The course will cover debates surrounding American exceptionalism and hegemony, adaptation to the post-Cold War era, the post-9/11 era (including the War on Terror, the 2008 GFC, and the election of Trump in 2016) its responses to the rise of Russia and China, as well as selected issues in contemporary foreign policy such as the environment, global terrorism, global populism, and the global economy. You will explore the process of foreign policy through the key institutions and processes, and how powerful state actors formulate, develop, articulate and execute their own respective foreign policies. You will explore: the most important foreign policy events in recent times; the grand strategies that have been considered or implemented; the inherent trade-offs between ideals and self-interest in foreign policy; and key policy debates that define the foreign policy process. 

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes

In course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:    

  • Apply concepts and techniques of security analysis and strategic thinking to contemporary global security challenges 

Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  1. outline and evaluate the core theoretical concepts and practices associated with foreign policy 
  2. identify and analyse the key institutions and processes that define the foreign policy process 
  3. analyse and evaluate the different perspectives and approaches to foreign policy 
  4. synthesise and apply information and ideas from a range of foreign policy sources to analyse key foreign policy debates and processes 

Overview of Learning Activities

The lectures will introduce each topic, contextualise the set reading material, and highlight the political and security relevance of each issue by drawing on recent information from a variety of sources. The tutorials provide an opportunity for added discussion of issues raised by the lecture and set readings. 

Overview of Learning Resources

You will be given access to a wide range of resources through a Course Reader or core textbook and also will be able to access a wide range of online learning tools and content for your course from via Canvas, and RMIT Library resources. These resources will include book chapters, journal articles, media articles, lecture notes, bibliographies for supplementary reading, video, and links to external websites. You will have the opportunity to contribute collectively to class resources by sharing your own research findings and sources with your peers. 

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.  

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal. 

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Feedback will be provided throughout the semester by your teachers and peers in class and/or online discussions, and through individual and/or group feedback on practical exercises.  

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1 - Major Research Essay 

50% of total        CLO1, CLO2, CLO3, CLO4 

Assessment Task 2 - Take Home Extended Responses 

35% of total      CLO1, CLO2, CLO3, CLO4 

Assessment Task 3 - Workshop participation 

15% of total CLO1, CLO2, CLO3 

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks. 

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.  

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.