The modern American presidency

This module provides knowledge and critical understanding of the Modern American Presidency, especially in the realm of American foreign and security policy.

The general aims of this module are to:

  • develop your critical analysis and knowledge of the key approaches to the Presidency: to include Wildavsky’s Two Presidencies thesis, Schlesinger’s Imperial Presidency, and the work of Richard Neustadt and Fred Greenstein and;
  • provide you with an understanding of the foreign policy direction of each presidency under consideration.

This course examines the impact made by Franklin Roosevelt upon the office of the President and establishes the legacy this left for those who followed, in conceptual and empirical terms.

Topics covered

  • FDR: The Birth of the Modern American Presidency
  • Nixon, Ford and Carter
  • Reagan and Bush
  • Barack Obama
  • Donald Trump 
  • Biden and the Future

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the Modern American Presidency in the context of global diplomacy.
  • demonstrate a sound understanding of different presidencies in a critical, analytical and reflective fashion across a range of issues.
  • demonstrate in both theoretical and empirical approaches and tools to debates surrounding the presidency.
  • show a clear understanding of various different approaches to the subject matter and be able to creatively interpret the key questions at the heart of this field of study.


  • E-tivity 1 – Access and Socialisation 0%
  • E-tivity 2 – Library Information retrieval 5%
  • E-tivity 3 – Literature critique (directed) 5%
  • E-tivity 4 – Essay Proposal 15%
  • E-tivity 5 – Literature critique (bespoke) 5%
  • E-tivity 6 – An essay to be electronically submitted as final assessment 70%