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International Relations (Module)

Module description

The study of international relations (IR) helps us understand the circumstances under which conflict and cooperation occur in the world. If we can determine the causes of these events, we might learn to control them. This course is designed as an introduction to the only academic discipline that is specifically concerned with the study of "The International". It offers a broad introduction to international relations and assumes no prior knowledge. It is structured to provide a balance between empirical applications and theoretical underpinnings. The course covers several mainstream and critical theories that help to explain recurring patterns in international relations, including realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Along with these theories, we will explore basic concepts used by IR scholars, such as the “state,” the “nation,” “anarchy,” and “power.” We will then study the different ways in which to analyse fundamental problems of international relations—conflict or cooperation—whether by studying the “big picture,”, the international system, or the inner workings of the state. Throughout the course you will be given the opportunity to apply complex and fast-changing scholarship to “real world” world problems, including state failure, climate change, pandemics and security, international development, and humanitarian crises, which will enhance your critical thinking skills and help you to situate current international events in complex empirical and theoretical frameworks. You will become an informed consumer of news and policy, and, hopefully, a better citizen of the world

The module is taught by King’s academics, and based on a 15 credit King's undergraduate module. It comprises 150 study hours, including teaching time, independent study and group work. A detailed timetable for this module will be available on KEATS from June 2020.

Learning outcomes and objectives

By the end of the module, you should have:

  • Distinguished between realist, liberal-institutionalist, constructivist, IPE and global governance approaches to international relations, including an understanding of the major debates and the diversity within and between these schools of thought.
  • Explained the fundamental principles and entities which structure the contemporary international system, and the debates around them.
  • Appreciated a number of key policy questions of international relations (e.g. the US-China relationship, energy security, the future of the United Nations, globalisation), and situated these issues within a theoretical framework of international relations scholarship.
  • Understood the fundamental ontological and epistemological questions and debates that have influenced all social sciences. 

Staff information

Dr Diana Bozhilova, Summer Programmes Teaching Fellow at King’s College London and Head of Faculty at New College of the Humanities. 

Dr Bozhilova is a political science expert whose published research focuses on democratisation and reform, as well as on energy security and development. She holds positions at King's College London and New College of the Humanities in the UK and served as an expert witness to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union.

Teaching pattern

  • Lectures
  • Seminars and tutorials
  • Private study

Module assessment - more information

  • One essay of 3,000 words (100%) (summative)
  • Group presentation of 15 minutes (formative)

Key information

Module code 4ZSS0057

Credit level 4

Assessment coursework presentation/s

Credit value Classes can often be taken for credit towards degrees at other institutions, and are examined to university standards. To receive credit for King's summer classes, contact your home institution to ask them to award external credit. This class is equivalent to an undergraduate degree module and usually awarded 3-4 US credits or 7.5 ECTS.

Semester summer session 2

Study abroad module No