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National and International Determinants of Foreign Policy



This seminar examines theories about how states formulate and implement foreign policy. The focus is on the sources of foreign policy decisions, as well as on the decision-making process. The seminar will offer an overview of the core theoretical approaches within the foreign policy analysis scholarship (e.g., rational choice, bureaucratic, domestic politics, psychological models). The objective will be to assess the contributions and limitations of each approach. In this context, the seminar will look at specific foreign policy events to test the application of key theories. The seminar aims to sharpen the students’ skills in critical thinking, research, writing, and presentation.

Course Objectives

Objective: 1. In this course students will learn:

  • about the main theories that explain foreign policy decision-making;

  • how to apply these theories to understand how foreign policy decisions are made;

  • to appraise how various domestic and international factors shape foreign policy decisions;

  • to assess how various variables influence the implementation of foreign decisions.
    Objective: 2. Students will acquire the following skills:

  • appraise the strengths and limitations of theoretical approaches to foreign policy making;

  • identify evidence that supports or eliminates a particular approach in the context of one specific event;

  • write a research paper and select the theories that best explain the case given the evidence;

  • Present research findings in a clear, concise and convincing manner and offer policy recommendations.

Mode of Instruction


Reading List

Book and articles




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