The course will provide a critical understanding of key developments and issues in contemporary world politics for students with no prior background in international relations. Focusing on the period since the end of the Cold War, an era defined by rapid institutional innovation and development, as well as a number of emergent global issues, problems and policy dilemmas, the course locates these in the context of north-south relations. Treating the international system as a dynamic whole, it examines how issues that have become central in international politics including ‘failed states’, nuclear proliferation, armed conflict and terrorism, democratisation, pandemics and the Arab Spring are intimately linked to expanding efforts since the mid-20th century to generate a liberal world order.
For more information, please see the course handbook:
International Relations in the 21st Century online handbook (pdf; 89kb)
On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:
- Apply international relations theory to explain key developments and events in contemporary world politics
- Demonstrate critical knowledge of contemporary global policy frameworks, such as globalization, neoliberalism and the Global War on Terror
- Demonstrate critical knowledge of key institutional and organizational developments in world politics since the end of the Cold War.
This course is worth 15 credits in the UK system. 15 credits is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.
Current SOAS students selecting this course as an open option module will not be charged the tuition-fee. For further information and assistance, please contact email@example.com.
"The course content has provided me with another view on a lot of issues, very often in a way that I wouldn't have thought about myself. The way we had to report on our visit to the Imperial War Musuem was particularly appropriate. It was not just a tour of the musuem, but we were questioned about our perception of the way things were presented, something I had never done before." - Frederic (International Relations in the 21st Century, 2019)
For more information, please fill out our enquiry form
Start of programme: 20 July – 31 July 2020
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
- A university student or a graduate at the time of attending the summer school, and 18+ years of age. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.
- 2 weeks
Tuition Fees 2020
A full programme schedule and updated handbook are being developed and will be available soon.
Sample Reading list:
- Laffey, Mark (2016) A short guide to Realism.
- Laffey, Mark (2016) A short guide to Marxism
- Mearsheimer, John J. (2010) ‘The Gathering Storm: China's Challenge to US Power in Asia,’ The Chinese Journal of International Politics 3(4): 381-396
- De Graaff, Naná and Bastiaan Van Apeldoorn, (2018) ‘US–China relations and the liberal world order: contending elites, colliding visions?’ International Affairs 94(1): 113–131.
- Laffey, Mark (2015) A short guide to Constructivism
- Turner, Oliver. "China, India and the US Rebalance to the Asia Pacific: The Geopolitics of Rising Identities." Geopolitics 21, no. 4 (2016): 922-944.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
The programme is delivered online through a Virtual Learning Environment (intranet page) that sets out the readings for each week, the guiding questions for discussion and hosts the discussion boards. This page provides a platform to share other material such as videos, internet links, quizzes and feedback on assignments. Students also have access to a vast amount of academic and policy-related material through the SOAS library.
Courses are taught intensively over two weeks between Monday - Friday. Students should expect to spend between 4-6 hours per day completing course related activities including video lectures, live tutorials, readings, forum discussion and assignments. Students studying for credit will submit a 2000-2500 word written assignment one week after the course finishes.
Each course is assessed by two online assessments (‘e-tivities’*) comprising of 30%, the remaining 70% is formed of a 2,500 word essay. The e-tivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve. E-tivities will vary in format but will include article reviews, quizzes, blog posts, essay plans and more. On successful completion of the assessments, students will receive a transcript confirming the credit awarded. Students that do not require credit are strongly encouraged to take part in the e-tivities, but are not required to complete the assessments.
* An 'e-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format that states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.)
Students will require regular access to a computer with a good internet connection, and the following applications installed:
- A word processor that accepts Microsoft Word formats (.doc and .docx)
- A PDF reader
Navigating Time Zones
Courses have been designed with varying time zones in mind. All lectures will be recorded for access at any time and the discussion forum is open to posts from students at all times. The limited 'live' sessions will be scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00 BST and will be recorded for any students unable to attend.
Students that successfully complete all course assessments will be awarded 15 SOAS credits. This is normally equivalent to 7.5 ECTS or 4 US credits. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply.
A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.
10% early-bird discount when you apply by 31 March
10% discount if you apply for two courses over 6 weeks
15% discount for SOAS Alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)
20% discount for our partner institutions
Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for more information.
For more information, please see our accommodation page.
The SOAS Academic Summer School is delighted to offer six tuition-fee waiver scholarships to passionate students with a desire to make a difference in the world.
The scholarships will cover the tuition-fee for one Academic Summer School course in 2020.
Application Deadline: 2020-03-13 00:00
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section
How to Apply
Apply now to secure your place on the Academic Summer School.
Once you have paid the £40 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.Please see our Ambassador Scholarship page for details regarding scholarship application.
Applications for the Academic Summer School close on 29th May 2020.