[skip to content]

Department of Politics and International Studies

Introduction to International Relations

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is a core course in the BA International Relations and provides a general introduction to the discipline of International Relations and to major themes in world politics. Major theories and approaches to world politics are covered, including Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, Marxism, Feminism, and Postcolonial and Critical Approaches. Topics to be covered will include issues of war and peace, power, global economy, identities and ideologies, regionalism, foreign policy analysis, global civil society, justice and human rights, international organisations and empire. The course pays particular attention to the relationship between the discipline of International Relations as a field of knowledge and its application and/or relevance to the experience and interests of actors in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • Knowledge of the major theories and approaches in the discipline of International Relations
  • Ability to critically evaluate and apply such theories and approaches
  • Knowledge of major substantive themes in International Relations
  • Ability to think critically about the relevance of mainstream theories of International Relations and their relevance to experience and interests of actors in Asia, Africa and the Middle East
  • Basic understanding of the major international and regional institutions in world politics as well as significant developments in world politics
  • Ability to analyse world politics from a variety of perspectives
  • Ability to apply theories to case studies

Scope and syllabus

Term 1
1. Introduction: What is International Relations?
2. State and Sovereignty
3. Organisation and Order: Anarchy, Hierarchy, Markets, Networks
4. Levels of Analysis, Domestic Politics and Individuals
5. Realism, War and Power Politics
6. Liberalism, Neoliberalism and Global Economy
Reading Week
7.  Marxism, Transnational Elites and World Systems
8.  Constructivsm, Norms and Culture
9. Feminism, Gender and the Public/Private
10. Postcolonialism, Poststructuralism and Critical Theory

Term 2
11. Empire and Hegemony
12. Identities and Ideologies
13. International Organisations I
14. International Organisations II
15. Regionalism and Integration
Reading Week
16. Global Civil Society
17. Peace and Security
18. International Justice and Human Rights
19. Foreign Policy Analysis
20. Conclusion

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: one 2 hour unseen examination (50%), 2 x 3000 word essays (25% each).  All coursework may be resubmitted.