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Graduate Diploma in American Politics & Foreign Policy

 Full Time (Z236) and Part Time (Z237) APPLY

The Graduate Diploma in American Politics and Foreign Policy encourages students to comprehend the how and why of the subject. Throughout the modules you will encounter diverse perspectives but the main emphasis will be upon scholarly and/or policy-oriented readings and discussions.

The United States is the most influential nation in the world. However, a number of challenges in recent years have called into question the sustainability of American leadership abroad and prosperity at home. These include, but are not limited to, the notion of American decline in relation to rising powers such as China: a political system that appears to have entered an extended period of dysfunction; recurring problems in race relations; and rising economic inequality. This MA degree programme, which is the first of its kind in Europe or North America, allows students to explore in depth the foreign policy and political challenges facing the United States. Drawing upon the disciplines of history and political science, it explores a wide variety of topics such as the origins of American exceptionalism, the importance placed upon individual liberty, the emergence of the US as a world power, the Cold War, transatlantic relations, presidential and congressional election, race and gender, partisanship and more. Modules in this programme are taught by resident UCD faculty and by visiting lecturers, who will consider theoretical and practical perspectives. The programme will interest those seeking a career in government, media, in the non-profit sector, in business and those hoping to undertake advanced study in these areas.


Applicants for the Graduate Diploma should hold one of the following qualifications:

  • A first class or second class, grade 1 or 2  degree
  • A US or Canadian degree with a GPA of 3.5
  • If an applicant doesn’t meet the normal entry requirement of a Level 8 degree, in exceptional circumstances they would normally present another qualification or award along with extensive work experience in order to be considered.


The curriculum is kept under review and modules may change from year to year. This is a 60 credit programme, of which 50 credits come from taught modules and the remaining 10 from a list of options available through other Schools.

The is a provisional list of core modules and are subject to final confirmation. Each module tutor will provide students with documentation setting out the structure and content of the module. 10 credit modules normally consist of weekly two-hour seminars. These are group discussion classes where students are expected to bring up issues arising from their independent study.

Theories of International Relations AMST40500 (5 credits)

The aim of this module is to introduce the students to the study of International Relations (IR) with a special focus on the role of the United States. The module will introduce the key arguments of the most important theoretical approaches to the study of IR. We will discover that the way we think about what is happening in the world may not be theoretically neutral and we will identify the theoretical approaches underlying our thinking. This module will require active participation in class through discussions and presentations. At the end of this module the students will be able to distinguish and evaluate the major schools of thought in International Relations scholarship. They will also be able to name and then apply important conceptual and theoretical considerations to contemporary global events.

US Politics and Presidential Debates AMST40510 (10 credits)

This module will guide you through the major policy issues (both domestic and foreign) that have characterized US politics from the end of the Cold War until the present day. The module will start with the study of four traditional US schools of thought: Hamiltonian, Wilsonian, Jeffersonian, and Jacksonian schools. It will continue with a thorough analysis of the presidential debates that took place from the 1992 through the 2016 US elections. Finally, it will discuss the prospective emergence of a Trump Doctrine. This module will require active participation, in class through discussion and small group exercises. At the end of this module the students will gain a sophisticated understanding of the major policy issues in post-Cold War US politics, what they have been, how they have changed, how different presidential candidates have framed them, and what political party have supported them, among other things.

Challenges in Contemporary US Foreign Policy AMST40310 (10 credits)

This module examines US foreign policy in the 21st century. First, we will discuss the topical debates about US relative decline and the future of US Grand Strategy. Second, we will study the complex relations existing between the United States and other regions of the world (Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa). Third, we will conclude by analyzing US foreign policy in especially important areas such as the global economy, the environment, cyber warfare, and international terrorism. At the end of the module the students will be able to present in detail and critically analyze key issues in international relations and the role that the United States plays in them. .

American Politics Today AMST40540 (10 credits)

This module examines contemporary American politics from a variety of perspectives in order to impart a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the system operates at the national level. Drawing upon literature from history and political science, the writings of prominent political observers, the video and social media content, the module will explore three interrelated and overarching themes. One is the fact that the US is in a period of transition, growing increasingly diverse. In addition is the increase in income inequality. The possibility that American influence abroad has begun to recede fuels the uncertainty that has accompanied these changes. The second theme of the module is the problem with gridlock, the inability of elected representatives to accomplish anything, especially in light of challenges facing the country, there seems to be little prospect of more cooperation anytime soon. The final theme of the module will be an examination of the nature of the Democratic and Republican parties, including the principal policy goals and political culture of each.

US Foreign Policy in the Middle East AMST40520 (5 credits)

This module will explore the relationship of the United States with the region of the Middle East. Although it will regularly look back at the history of US foreign Policy toward the region, the module will especially focus on 21st century issues. These will include US grand strategy, Islamic extremism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, democracy promotion, and many others. This module will require active participation in class through discussions and small group exercises. At the end of this module students will gain a sophisticated understanding of the key foreign policy issues concerning the United States in the strategically important region of the Middle East. Students will also develop the ability to offer policy recommendations to address current real-world foreign crises.

Research Skills and Methods AMST40480 (10 credits)

This course is designed to provide Masters and new PhD students with skills essential to the preparation and production of a postgraduate thesis. It will present the necessary tools for postgraduate research and develop associated skills such as the presentation of written and oral work to peers and scholars. It will also introduce students to methodology and the nature of interdisciplinary study.

Example of optional modules, this will change from year to year.

Media and US Foreign Policy

Politics and Change in the Middle East and North Africa

Public Diplomacy and Soft Power

The Making of United States and Foreign Policy from FDR to GWB

International Economic Crisis

New Media and New Conflicts

Race, Space and Place

Assessment may vary depending on the module but it is largely done by end of term essay in addition to class presentation and/or minor essay during the semester



The fees quoted exclude the student centre levy

                                                                                                   EU Students   Non-EU Students

Graduate Dip. American Politics and Foreign Policy Full-Time     €5,410             €11,900

Graduate Dip. American Politics and Foreign Policy Part-Time    €3,240             €5,970

The Institute offers a limited number of Scholarships (reduction on fees) to non EU students.

UCD Fees


Students apply online and decisions are made on a rolling basis. A conditional offer can be made if you are still waiting in your final exam results .

The following documents should be uploaded with your application. In addition to completing the application form you will need the following:

  • Two academic references.
  • A person statement (700 – 1000 words) of interest and or experience relevant to the programme
  • Academic transcripts (UCD students do not need to upload these)
  • Copy of id (eg. passport or driving licence)
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must provide a IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge certificate of proficiency in English. It is expected that should will normally have reached an overall 7 (IELTS) with no section less than 6.5.

Once a student has accepted a place on the programme they will have to submit all the original documents (hard copies) to:

On-Line Application Office, Tierney Building, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4

If you have any questions on the process please contact – Catherine.Carey@ucd.ie or

Tel. +353 1 7161560