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Theories of International Relations

Programme overview

Although a 'common sense' view of world politics is often assumed in non-academic contexts, there is little agreement among experts on what international relations are and how we should think about them. This debate is significant more broadly when there is controversy over what has happened and what an event means, such as in the case of 9/11 attacks or the global financial crisis.

Those and other conceptual questions are discussed in the module of Theories of International Relations, which emphasises that ‘the truth’ about International Relations is disputed.

As a student, you will learn to critically examine conventional wisdom about world politics and us theory to reflect on present and past examples of world politics.

Programme content

At the end of the module students should be able to compare and contrast how different approaches see international politics, discuss ideas on which they draw, outline and discuss key claims and concepts of different approaches, give an account of the questions which each of the approaches poses and of their chief concerns, evaluate strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and generate reasoned arguments about a range of theories of international relations.

This module explores different ways of analysing international relations, and what is at stake in them. It offers a critical introduction to key theories of international relations including realism, liberalism, Marxism, constructivism, and feminism. Theory applicable to a variety of issues areas is explored, including international political economy.

This module enables students to critically examine the conventional (and unconventional) ways of thinking about international relations as a basis for final year modules on global politics.

Module Director:

Dominic Kelly