A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The Geopolitics course aims to enrich the analytic and theoretical knowledge of students interested in more advanced studies of international relations, concentrating especially on the spatial and geographical aspects of foreign policy and international relations. The course strives to highlight the importance of this dimension of international politics, and therefore the contribution that a geopolitical viewpoint can bring to the analysis of international events. By examining the major schools and traditions of geopolitical thought we will accentuate the spatial and geographical factors and obligations which tend to condition states' definition of their fundamental interests in the international arena (starting with strategic and economic security); we will likewise see emerge the geopolitical and strategic logic that guides states' actions on the international stage.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course students will have mastered the theoretical and conceptual tools of geopolitics, and be able to look at foreign policy and international politics from a specifically geopolitical perspective, integrating the knowledge acquired in other classes in political science and international relations taken during their course of study. Students will be able to understand the substance and the geopolitical dimension of the great issues of international relations, to define the geopolitical factors and obligations that condition the reality of international politics, at both the regional and global level, and to make sense of the reasoning behind the geopolitical and strategic actions of the major players on the international scene.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Third trimester
Course syllabus
The course will focus on the following topics:
- definition of Geopolitics
- origin and brief history of geopolitical thought
- the main geopolitical currents and traditions
- potential and limits of geopolitical explanation of politics: Geopolitics between environmental determinism and possibilism
- the geopolitical field: geographical and spatial factors of States' conduct in the international arena (State's territory; geography of borders; regional and world location; access to raw materials)
- the sea as a geopolitical arena
- geographical and spatial factors of the genesis national identities and domestic institutions
- technological changes and their impact upon the geopolitical field
- the subjective side of Geopolitcs: mental geography
- geopolitics and cartography
- States' geopolitical practice: foreign and security policy as organization of the geographical space (the search for "strategic" borders; spheres of influence; the policy of access to raw materials; strategies of control of land, sea and air communications)
- geopolitical aspects of United States' foreign and security policy
- geopolitics and power politics after the end of the Cold War
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of International Relations is presumed.
Teaching methods
Teaching Resources
Attending students:
- lecture notes
- C. Stefanachi, America Invulnerabile e insicura. La dimensione geopolitica della politica estera degli Stati Uniti nella stagione dell'impegno globale, Vita e Pensiero, Milano, 2017.

Not-attending students:
- F. Bordonaro, La geopolitica anglosassone, Guerini&Associati, Milano, 2009.-
- C. Stefanachi, America Invulnerabile e insicura. La dimensione geopolitica della politica estera degli Stati Uniti nella stagione dell'impegno globale, Vita e Pensiero, Milano, 2017.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final evaluation is based on the oral examination at the end of the course, which aims to test the students' ability to present the fundamental concepts of Geopolitics, and to apply them to the international political reality. The examination consist of an interview based on 3-4 questions.
Attending student can substitute a presentation on assigned papers for the oral exam.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours