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International Relations Theory (Module)

Module description


This course aims to provide students with an introduction to essential concepts and terms of art (including sovereignty, anarchy, the state, politics, power, war and order) for the study International Relations. Having studied the core conceptual building-blocks, the course explores the role of theory in the study of International Relations, examining the main contending theoretical approaches (such as Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, Post-Colonialism, Feminism, and Post-Structuralism), and developing awareness of the areas of ongoing debate and reformulation in the discipline. The course seeks to communicate the character of world politics from diverse perspectives (including system, actor, and normative approaches), with an emphasis on relating theory to questions of public concern and policies in practice. The course will draw on core texts in modern political philosophy and international relations theory to provide students with a firm grounding from which to think about a range of critical issues in global affairs.


By the end of the course, students will: 

  • Have developed a broad understanding of International Relations, its terminology/key terms of art, and main theoretical traditions.
  • Be able to assess the utility or validity of different theories of International Relations for thinking about specific issues in world politics.
  • Have acquired specialised cognitive and analytical skills such that they are able to identify the core principles and concepts underlying different theories of International Relations, and begin to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Be able to identify and develop their own enquiries, within defined guidelines, into the core debates in International Relations, through the collection and analysis of authoritative sources, and be able to communicate solutions to problems informed by these sources in appropriate formats.
  • Have demonstrated awareness of the ethical issues inherent to the study of International Relations, and relate these to personal beliefs and values.
  • Have developed team, organisational, communication, and other academic, practical and interpersonal skills, such that students can undertake complex and non-routine performance tasks requiring self-reflection.
  • Have begun to reflect upon their own learning, gaining awareness of their own capabilities and engaging in development activity through guided self-direction.

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.

Staff information

Dr Aggie Hirst*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a Full Year 30-credit module, this will equate to 40 hours of teaching time (2 hours per week) with 260 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Coursework & Exam*

Key information

Module code 4SSW1006

Credit level 4

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module No