POLS6010/ESPS2104 International Relations Theories
Course Code: POLS6010/ESPS2104
Course Tutor: Dr Kristin Bakke (Department of Political Science)
Length: One term (Autumn Term)
Teaching: 20 hours lectures/seminars
Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)
Credits: 0.5 course units, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS)
About this course
This course introduces students to the major theoretical traditions in International Relations and uses these different theories to address historical and current events in world politics. The course aims to link theory and the “real world,” by providing the students with different lenses for understanding and explaining questions related to wars, nuclear weapons, terrorism, globalization, and regional integration.
We begin the course by discussing the theoretical approaches through which International Relations scholars analyze world politics, including Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Constructivism, and Feminism. These theoretical approaches differ across several dimensions. Some focus on the role of states, while others place more emphasis on non-state actors. Some argue that states’ (or state leaders’) actions in the international system are driven by self-interest, while others maintain that norms and ideas shape behavior.
In discussing the different theoretical approaches, we will reflect on both their advantages and limitations. We will do so by asking how they can help us analyze important empirical questions in international relations. The second half of the course will, therefore, focus on the following questions: Why do states go to war with one another? Why do some states maintain peace within their borders, while others have experienced long-lasting and bloody civil wars? What are the causes of nuclear proliferation? What are the causes of terrorism? What is globalization, and what are its effects? How does free trade affect poverty? What are the causes of regional integration?
By the end of the course, students should be familiar with the major theoretical approaches in the filed, be able to demonstrate how these theories influence our explanations, and have some knowledge background on substantive questions in world politics.