Germany's Foreign Policy since the end of the Cold War

School: School of Government and Society
Department of Political Science and International Studies

Modular value: 20 credits
Teaching: 2 hour weekly seminars
Duration: Spring term

Germany's foreign policy has undergone significant changes since 1989. Once described as being guided by a general "culture of restraint" and a set of firm bonds with its European neighbours, recent events have called these traditional parameters of Germany's post-WW II foreign policy into question. Most notably Germany's "no" to NATO's interventions in Lybia and the dominance of Germany during the Eurocrisis have led some analysts to be believe that Germany, yet again, strongly pursues its national interests at the expense of its neighbours. At the same time, German elites have portrayed the aforementioned changes as legitimate responses to the new challenges and objectives confronting Germany in the 21st century, whilst trying to reassure its neighbours that the fundamental parameters of German foreign policy remain unchanged. In line with this, scholarship on post-Cold War German foreign policy has been divided over whether German foreign policy is best described as one of “change” or of "continuity".

Against this background the course asks a number of research questions: What structural factors shape Germany’s national interests, and how these factors play out with regard to real-world events? How do national actors perceive Germany’s national interests, and how do such perceptions inform the worldview of Germany’s elites? And do domestic factors, such as the ideas and perceptions of political leaders, public opinion, Germany’s political system, the impact of lobby groups, history, and other factors, have to be considered? And has the influence of the aforementioned factors changed significantly throughout the last two decades?

Whilst it is not required for students to take the proposed module on "Foreign Policy Analysis", it would certainly serve as an asset for students to take the general module on Foreign Policy Analysis during the first term. It is not necessary for students to have pre-existing knowledge on Germany prior to taking the module. Nonetheless a general knowledge on International Relations and modern European History will certainly serve as an advantage.


  • One essay of 3,500 words (90%)
  • An oral presentation in class (10%).

Related modules:

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.