Portuguese Foreign Policy

Academic year
Subject Area
Political Science – International Relations
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

Knowledge of Contemporary Portuguese History and basic knowledge of foreign policy analysis.

Teaching Methods

The course combines lectures and seminars in which students are expected to discuss papers or book chapters on the issue. They will be required to participate, and present their research on a given foreign policy topic. Students are expected to develop their research skills when preparing for the essay they will have to submit by the end of term. In addition, they will also be expected to produce a smaller essay, in the format of a briefing for policy-makers on a given topic/crisis/problem. Students will also have to take a test in the first part of the semester.

Learning Outcomes

Overall objectives

This curricular unit has as its main goal to provide the students with the necessary analytical tools to understand the most relevant dimensions of Portugal’s foreign policy. The students should also be able to acquire a good historical knowledge of Portuguese foreign policy and thus be able to better understand how it has evolved in recent decades.


Specific competencies and objectives

-To understand the theoretical, as well as ideological debates, that are at the centre of Portugal’s foreign policy.

-To be able to historically contextualise the evolution of Portugal’s foreign policy.

-To be able to identify the main strategic pillars of Portugal’s foreign policy.


Generic competencies

Development of the following competencies: capacity of analysis and synthesis, reading comprehension in English, ability to work and write in English, ability to work in groups.

Work Placement(s)



1.  Key aspects of Portuguese foreign policy

1.1  The comparative study of foreign policy

1.2  Key debates in the study of Portuguese foreign policy

1.2.1  The theoretical dimension

1.2.2  The political dimension

2.  Analytical dimensions

2.1   Leaders in foreign policy – the role of executives

2.2   Advisors & bureaucracies – decision-making in the context of small groups

2.3   The domestic dimensions of Portuguese foreign policy I – the role of parliaments, opposition groups & special interests

2.4   The domestic dimensions of Portuguese foreign policy II – media & public opinion

2.5   The international dimension

2.5.1  Geopolitics & history as context to foreign policy

2.5.2  National identity & national roles played out internationally

3.  Regional dimensions 

3.1   Portugal & the European Union

3.2   Portugal, the US & NATO

3.3   The African dimension

3.4   The Mediterranean & the Middle East

3.5   Asia in portuguese foreign policy

4. The future of Portuguese foreign policy

Assessment Methods

participation in class (20%), a written test (25%), a short essay/ briefing (25%), and a final essay (30%). : 100.0%


Brito, Nuno Filipe, “Política Externa Portuguesa. O Futuro do Passado”, Relações Internacionais, 5, 2005.

Franco, Manuela (coord.), Portugal, Os Estados Unidos e a África Austral, Lisboa: Fundação Luso-Americana e IPRI, 2006

Magalhães, José Calvet de e outros, Portugal, Paradoxo Atlântico, Lisboa: Fim de Século Edições, 1993 (327 MAG)

Pinto, António Costa (coord.), Portugal Contemporâneo, Madrid: Editiones sequitur, 2000  (946…..)

Política Externa e Política de Defesa de Portugal Democrático (vários), Lisboa: Edições Colibri, 2001 (946.9.07 CUR)

Telo, António José, Os Açores e o Controlo do Atlântico, Lisboa: Edições ASA, 1993 (327 TEL)

Teixeira, Nuno Severiano, “Portugal” in Maria Raquel Freire (org.), Política Externa. As Relações Internacionais em Mudança, Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2011.

Visões de Política Externa Portuguesa (vários), Lisboa: Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa e Instituto Diplomático do MNE, 2005 (ISBN: 972-98963-4-8)