IR4001 - Britain, Europe and the World

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the changing role of Britain in the world and the challenges that currently face Britain in its engagement with Europe and the wider world.
You will learn how and why British foreign policy changed in response to the political and economic situation in which it found itself at the end of the Second World War, and how Britain struggled to come to terms with the new realities of the post-war world in which its former, prominent position as a world power was being challenged on a number of fronts as economic, political and military power was shifting in a post-war world that was responding to a changed and changing order in which new and different alliances were being forged and European colonial powers were having to respond to pressures to recognise claims for national self-determination.
You will learn about Britain’s so-called ‘special relationship’ with the United States, particularly in the context of the Cold War and the so-called ‘War on Terror’, Britain’s changing attitude to its relationship with the neighbouring western European countries, and how and why Britain decided to join the European Economic Community and its subsequent ‘awkward relationship’ with its fellow member-states.
You will learn about how and why the British Empire was dismantled and, in part, transformed into the Commonwealth.
All of these issues will be studied in their historical context with a focus on how Britain’s foreign relations developed over the course of the mid/late 20th century and into the 21st century.

How will I learn on this module?

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars, and directed and independent learning. Key themes, topics, concepts, ideas, theories, etc, will be introduced in the lectures, supported by materials on the electronic learning portal (Blackboard). Seminar tasks and the reading to facilitate fulfilment of these tasks will be posted on Blackboard so that you are guided towards the sort of research and reading that will enable you to fulfil the task and thus become an effective participant in the seminar programme. Preparation for, and participation in, the scheduled sessions is the foundation to learning on this module. Another key element in your learning will be completing the assessment designed to test all the learning outcomes for the module. Group and individual guidance on successful completion of the assessment will be available. Through the use of formative feedback in the seminars, particularly in the seminar where you make your presentation, you will receive advice and information to help you reflect on your understanding of the material concerned and make changes to your work prior to submission of the first component of assessment.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Preparation, particularly for seminars, will contribute to your development as an independent learner as you transition from a school/college environment to a university setting. The module requires you to undertake guided research, communicate your findings in a group setting and discuss and debate your ideas and those of fellow students in the seminar setting. In this way, the module will help you develop your skills in research, communication and critical engagement with academic ideas, which are essential features of the Northumbria graduate attributes.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Understand and critically appraise the development of British foreign policy since 1945 within the broader political, economic and security context.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the key domestic and international actors, institutions and events shaping British foreign policy since 1945.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources.

4. Construct reasoned arguments underpinned by engagement with appropriate academic texts

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Appreciate the need to continually question your understanding and that of others.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment for the module will be in two parts. There will be an assessed presentation to be delivered during the seminars, which will be both formative and summative. You will receive formative feedback immediately after the presentation from the lecturer and from your peers by way of comments and questions. You will then be required to submit a piece of written work within a week of the presentation, fully referenced, 1000 words max, which will be worth 30% of the overall mark. You will also have to submit an essay of 2000 words max at the end of the module and this component will be worth 70 % of the final mark. Together, these 2 components of assessment will test all these learning outcomes.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code L2L2

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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