POLS3202 – Foreign Policies of the Great Powers54.3
This has been simultaneously one of the best and worst courses I have undertaken at UQ.
Jean-Louis is a fantastic lecturer and his enthusiasm and style is not lost upon you as a student. The lectures whilst entertaining and informative are quite largely dry and focus much on the historical basis of the weeks topic. They are not necessary to attend but are quite enjoyable.
The tutorials are the highlight of the course. a two (2) hour workshop in which you prepare a brief on a given scenario. These scenarios are different every week and range from looking at Asia, through the FoN (Freedom of Navigation) issue in the South China Sea, to current issues of migration facing the European continent. They are incredibly practical and give you insight into how foreign policy briefs are formed. Discussions are lively and interesting leading to great debates.
Workshop participation through briefs amounted to 30% of the total course grade so I highly recommend you do these.
The major group collaborative essay (50%) is interesting in its scope but as most group projects go can be incredibly annoying in terms of making sure everyone is doing the required work.
The final examination (20%) was definitely a highlight. You are placed into a group and represent a certain major foreign power, such as the United States, France or China. The other group represents another foreign power and an issue relating to both is your topic. For example our group represented France and the other Great Britain, with a focus on the Calais jungle camp and migration between the two nations. Very much engaging and with a great practical aspect.
However upon review this course is almost worth NOT taking due to the sheer lack of course management. It was not uncommon to have conflicting information on the ECP & Blackboard and having two course coordinations (Jean-Louis and Chris Adams) definitely did not help. Many times they would give conflicting information to one another leading to incredibly annoying scenarios such as the following:
- The major group collaborative project had two different hand in times that were both upheld by the course coordinations leading to mass confusion.
- A week in which our project brief was useless because we were given a different role on the day.
- Weekly changes to the course ECP so most of the time you weren't sure what to do.
Ultimately the major downfall was the lack of feedback, whilst you would get a few sentences on your project brief for the week it isn't engaging enough. You won't know how well you are doing until the course is over. A lack of dialogue relating to your progress is a major downfall of this course.
Ultimately this was one of the most intellectually stimulating courses with a fantastic practical aspect that gives you an insight into a foreign policy career. However the administrative mismanagement of the course leaves much to be desired. If those issues can be cleared up then this has the potential to be a premier course at UQ.
POLS3202 – Foreign Policies of the Great Powers86.4
This is definitely the best course I have done within POLSIS. The lectures are quite dry and lack any real substantive material, but they are emblematic of Jean-Louis' way of thinking, which is somewhat admirable. They aren't necessary to attend, except when they conference call diplomats and other ambassadors.
The tutorials, or case study sessions, were the highlight of the whole course. They got for 90 minutes and are simulations of foreign policy situations, serving as a real practical exercise. The tutors are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, reply to all emails and Facebook posts, incredibly helpful in preparing for case study sessions, and make the class quite fun. Half way through the semester they stop providing reading lists for the case studies, so you have to start doing your own research.
The 5000 word essay was the most difficult part, but the tutors were always on hand to help. The statement of intent due early in the semester definitely helps you prepare for such a large research task.
Overall, the subject is fun and informative and different from other POLSIS subjects as it deals with a lot of real world issues rather than just theory or ideas.