SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Introduction to International Relations

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year

This module is a core module 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, Poststructuralist, Feminism, and Postcolonial Approaches. Topics to be covered will include issues of war and peace, power, global political economy, identities and ideologies, environmental politics, technological change, justice and human rights, empire, and the crisis of liberal international order. 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 module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the major theories and approaches in the discipline of International Relations
  • Critically evaluate and apply such theories and approaches
  • Understand the major substantive themes in International Relations
  • 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
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the major international and regional institutions in world politics as well as significant developments in world politics
  • Analyse world politics from a variety of perspectives
  • Apply theories to case studies


This module will be taught over 20 weeks with:

  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Scope and syllabus

Term 1

1. Introduction
2. Realism
3. Liberal Institutionalism
4. Social Constructivism
5. Marxism and Critical Theory

Reading Week

6. Feminism
7. Post-Colonialism
8. Globalisation and the State
9. Transnational Actors and International Organizations
10. Regionalism and Integration

Term 2

11. Power
12. Security
13. Identity
14. War
15. Peace  

Reading Week

16. Justice
17. Intervention
18. Hegemony
19. Revolutions
20. Conclusion

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: Essay 20%
Assignment 2: Essay 20%
Unseen written exam 60%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules