Department of Political Science


Theories of International Relations

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One 3,000 word essay

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About this course

This module provides a graduate-level introduction to the main strands of thinking in International Relations (IR). Its primary concern is to examine and assess each approach's foundational assumptions, its method and scope of problem definition, its understanding of the units of global politics; how it conceptualises international institutions, and the relationship between agency and international structure. As we progress, we also want to ask ourselves about the relationship between the different approaches. Are these approaches necessarily exclusionary? Do bridges and connections exist between them? The module covers basic concepts in IR, such as anarchy, sovereignty, power, the state and the international system. It surveys both mainstream and critical approaches to the subject, including realism and liberalism (as well as their neo-variants), the international society tradition (English School), social constructivism, Marxism, critical theory as well as post-structural approaches. Students will be asked to reflect on the ways in which theories account of and/or shape world politics. The module explicitly links IR to cognate disciplines, especially social theory and critically reflects on the conceptual frameworks and modes of analysis used by IR theories.