The Geopolitics of Central Europe CEES5061

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course is designed to appeal to students interested in the politics and international relations of Central Europe. It will provide students with the opportunity to engage critical geopolitical theory as a lens to study contemporary conceptualisations of Central Europe and reflect upon the wide-ranging geopolitical challenges that influence regional political cooperation, European and transatlantic integration, new emerging security challenges and national foreign policy development.


10 weeks: 2-hour seminar per week. Tuesday 12:00-14:00 during Semester 2

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





There are three pieces of assessment.


■ 750-word literature review on Critical Geopolitics (15%)

■ 3000-word case study portfolio (60% made up of two pieces of writing worth 30% each 1500 words)

■ 1250-word reflective learning log report (25%)


Literature Review: This is a short piece of work due by the end of week 6 of the course. It is intended to ensure students engage at the appropriate level with relevant scholarly literature on critical geopolitical theory and other cognate theories/perspective. It will also provide an initial opportunity for feedback on writing style and critical analysis skills. This links to ILOs 1 and 2.


Case Study Portfolio: This is the main piece of assessment for the course. The portfolio consists of 2 pieces of work, each in the region of 1500 words, both exploring foreign policy and how geopolitics informs policy decision making but for different audiences. The first is a general briefing paper written for a professional practitioner audience and which will reflect upon the geopolitical security concerns and foreign policy positions of the 4 countries in the Central European region. Example briefing papers and advice on how to write with the correct tone will be provided in a dedicated supervision workshop. The second paper is single country case study in which the student presents a critique of an aspect of foreign or security policy promoted by one of the 4 countries covered within the course. This paper is intended for an academic audience and should apply theory and critical analysis of an actual policy paper. Students will need to identify the policy they plan to analysis and use other primary source materials as well as scholarly work to support their critique. Students will be able to use the weekly formative exercise and the planned supervision workshop to scaffold and plan their paper. This links to ILOs 2,3 and 4.


Learning Log Report: This is formal written paper based on the content and further personal reflections of the collected materials that the students have produced as part of their formative assessment. Although the formative assessment could take the form of different journal formats (written, audio or video based), students will need to synthesize this into the final written report of around 1250 words. The report needs to be appropriately structured and provide a critical appraisal of their learning journey including how they approached regular learning, what they learned as well as thoughts and feelings they encountered as they engaged with course material. Most importantly though it should provide some reflections on how the student used their developing knowledge and skills during the weekly task to inform their final portfolio output and how this may benefit them with approaches to learning or production of possible work-related outputs in the future. This links to ILO 3 and 5.

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ familiarise participants with the scholarship and academic debates on geopolitics and 'critical geopolitics' as well as associated concepts and principles of international relations.

■ introduce participants to the historical and contemporary geopolitical issues that directly and indirectly inform the regional and international relations and security concerns of four Central European states (namely, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary).

■ encourage participants to use primary source materials such as government policy documents, communiques, speeches, and other official documentation, as well as media reports to support the study the foreign and security policy decision making of the Central European states.


Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. evidence knowledge of and critical engagement with scholarly literature on 'critical geopolitics' and other relevant geopolitical and international relations theory they relate to Central Europe.

2. use Central Europe as a case study to evaluate and critique the strengths and weakness of 'critical geopolitics' within broader international relations theories/perspectives.

3. demonstrate critical awareness of the regional and international geopolitical issues that inform Central European foreign and security policy priorities.

4. identify and undertake an analyse of appropriate primary source materials to support an investigative study of foreign and security challenges and how these are impacted by the geopolitical environment of contemporary Central Europe.

5. critically appraise personal learning and understanding of course content through self-reflective practice.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.