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Politics and International Relations

This course is designed to provide participants with insights into how political systems and related structures at national, regional and global levels function: why and how decisions are made and the socio-economic development outcomes and impacts on different societies.

It will contextualise and analyse theoretical and conceptual issues in politics and international relations within the contemporary practical setting of nation states and the international community.

The course will present important themes in politics and international relations around three main components:

  • International Political Economy of Development
  • International Relations and Security Studies
  • Gender, Equity and Inclusive Development

The Warwick Summer School allowed me to broaden my academic perspective. I recommend the program to anyone who wants to stimulate their academic curiosity while becoming immersed in London culture.

Michael Seitz (USA)

Key Facts

Level: Introductory to intermediate

Fees: Please see fees page

Teaching: 60 hours

Expected independent study: 90 hours

Optional assessment: Dependant on course

Typical credit: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)*
* Please check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, please see our Teaching and assessment page


The topics that will be analysed include, but will not be limited to:

  • Sustainable Development Goals: challenges and opportunities for economic transformation, innovation and long-term growth with reduction in poverty and inequality
  • Globalisation, Global Governance, and International Development Cooperation (international finance, trade, economic market, natural resource extraction, health, migration, environment frameworks and arrangements)
  • The ‘Rising’ Powers: China-Africa relations
  • Beyond aid: breaking the chains of poverty and dependency
  • Covid-19 global pandemic: health and socio-economic impacts and international cooperation
  • Comparative political systems and development
  • Democracy, political stability and (in)security
  • Social, health and economic security
  • International terrorism
  • States, borders, and migration
  • Public policy, private sector participation and national development
  • Critical feminist political economy and gender equality: access to health, education and well-being opportunities

Course Aims

The course will introduce students to:

  • national and international dimensions of the politics, policies and practical challenges and opportunities implicit in the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and just and desired socio-economic transformation;
  • the application of political norms and ideas and economic imperatives and thoughts for dealing with contemporary development problems such as poverty, conflict and war, migration, insecurity, environmental and climate change concerns; and
  • gendered aspects and ideological, social and cultural roots of inequality at national and global levels and considerations of policy and practical solutions. The main aim is to stimulate critical thinking and encourage debate among students around key factors that influence the development and prosperity of nations, groups and individuals.

Learning Outcomes

The course is designed to appeal to those who are interested in and/or studying for a career in public affairs at national, regional and international levels, public relations, private sector organisations, humanitarian and human rights activities, media and journalism, among other career options. Hence, it is delivered with the main purpose of equipping students with an understanding of the fundamentals of politics and political systems and appreciation of socio-economic development challenges faced by individuals, governments and international organisations.

Course Structure

For this course, there will be 4 hours of teaching on most weekdays, comprised of lectures and small group teaching. The structure will be:

  • 3 hours of lectures
  • A 1 hour seminar in small groups

Students will also be given time each day for independent study. Towards the end of the third week, students will also be provided with time for revision.

Course Assessment

The module will be assessed via a 2-hour examination. It should be noted that the exam is not compulsory. Everyone who completes the course – whether or not they sit the exam - will receive a certificate of attendance. However, by taking the exam you will also receive a grade/mark for the course which can be helpful to you.

Course reading lists and discussion points

1. International Political Economy of Development

Issues for discussion

    • Changing global development landscape
    • New forms of international development cooperation including the ‘emerging’ powers, South-South and Trilateral cooperation
    • Global governance reform and innovation
    • UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030
    • Role of public institutions
    • Private sector partnership for development

    Reading list

    Acemoglu, D. and J. Robinson (2012). Why nations fail: the origins of power, prosperity and poverty. New York: Crown Publishing Group.

    Collier, Paul (2007). The bottom billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Oxford: Oxford University Press (OUP).

    Cooper, A.F, Hocking, B. and Maley, W. (eds.) (2008). Global governance and diplomacy: Worlds apart?: Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Lisk, F. and A. B. Sehovic (2020)."Rethinking global health governance in a changing world order for achieving sustainable development: The role and potential of the 'Rising Powers' ". Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 13: 45-65.

    Manning, R. (2006). "Will 'Emerging Donors' Change the Face of International Co-operation?" Development Policy Review, 24: 371–385.

    Ndikumana, L. and J. Boyce (2011). Africa's odious debts: How foreign loans and capital flights bled a continent. London: Zed Press.

    Brautignam, Deborah (2010). The dragon's gift: The real story of China in Africa. Oxford: OUP.

    North, P. and M. Scott Cato (eds.) (2018). Towards just and sustainable economies: The social and solidarity economy North and South. Bristol: Policy Press.

    Green, T. (2021). The Covid consensus: The new politics of global inequality. London: Hurst Publishers.

    United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (2010), Combating poverty and inequality. Structural change, social policy and politics, Geneva: United Nations.

    2. International Relations and Security Studies

    Social, Health and Economic Security

    Issues for discussion

    • What is security? How should we define it?
    • Is poverty a relevant issue for the international security agenda? Why (not)?
    • What are your thoughts on the Security‐Development Nexus?
    • Should health be 'securitized'?

    Reading list

    Bilgin, P., 2003. Individual and societal dimensions of security. International Studies Review, 5(2), pp.203-222.

    Collins, A. ed., 2016. Contemporary security studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Williams, P.D. ed., 2012. Security studies: An introduction. London: Routledge.

    International Terrorism

    Issues for discussion

    • What is terrorism and who are the terrorists?
    • How significant is the threat of terrorism and how should we respond?
    • Can a state be a terrorist? Can terrorism be eliminated?
    • How much privacy should we sacrifice in the fight against terrorism, if any?

    Reading list

    Dexter, H., 2012. Terrorism and violence: another violence is possible? Critical Studies on Terrorism, 5(1), pp.121-137.

    Jackson, R., Jarvis, L., Gunning, J. and Breen-Smyth, M., 2011. Terrorism: A critical introduction. London: Macmillan International Higher Education (Introduction).

    Cronin, A.K., 2003. Behind the curve: Globalization and international terrorism. International security, 27(3), pp.30-58.

    States, Borders and Migration

    Issues for discussion

    • What is a border?
    • What position do refugees occupy in international politics and do they pose a security threat?

    Reading list

    Anderson, B., Sharma, N., Wright, C., We are all foreigners; No Borders as a practical political project;, in Peter Nyers and Kim Rygiel (eds.), Citizenship, Migrant Activism and the Politics of Movement. London: Routledge, 2012, 73-91.

    Balibar, & Etienne 2002. What is a border? In: Politics and the Other Scene. London; New York: Verso, 75–86.

    3. Gender, Equity and Inclusive Development

    Feminist Political Economy

    Issues for discussion

      • Is there a role for women in the global economy?
      • What is feminist political economy? And why does it matter?
      • What is social reproduction? What are its implications for women's lived experiences?

        Reading list

        Athreya, B., ‘Women in the global economy’, in Vandana Desai and Robert B. Potter (eds.), The Companion to Development Studies. London: Hodder Arnold, 2002, 342-346.

        Bakker, I., 2007. Social reproduction and the constitution of a gendered political economy. New Political Economy, 12(4), pp.541-556.

        Rai, S., Hoskyns, C., and Thomas, D., 2014. Depletion: the cost of social reproduction. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 16(1), pp.86-105

        Hoskyns, C., and Rai, S., 2007. Recasting the Global Political Economy: Counting women’s unpaid work. New Political Economy, 12(3), pp.297-317

        Samman, E., March 2016. Women’s work: Mothers, children and the global childcare crisis. Overseas Development Institute (ODI). London: ODI

        Nussbaum, M., 1999. Women and equality: The capabilities approach. International Labour Review, 138(3), pp.227-245.

        Gender Access to Health and Education

        Issues for discussion

                • How does gender impact access to health?
                • How does gender impact access to education?
                • What strategies can promote gender equity in access to health and education?
                • What are the contributions of the UN SDGs to bridging gender gaps in access to health, education and wellbeing?

                Reading list

                Clisby, S., and Holdsworth, J., 2014. Gendering women: Identity and mental wellbeing through the lifecourse. Bristol: Policy Press.

                Alsop, R., and Clisby, S., 2019. A vindication of the rights of girls: Surviving girlhood in the 21st century. Journal of Gender Studies, 28(7), pp.846-855.

                Unnithan-Kumar, M., ‘Quality of maternal healthcare and development’, in Vandana Desai and Robert B. Potter (eds.), The Companion to Development Studies. London: Hodder Arnold, 2002, 387-391. The United Nations (UN). Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Available at: (Accessed: 15 September 2021)

                Decolonising Feminism

                Issues for discussion

                        • What is decolonisation? Why does it matter?
                        • What does it mean to decolonise feminism?
                        • Is it necessary to decolonise feminism? And what would be the implications?

                        Reading list

                        Mignolo, W.D., and Walsh, C., 2018. On decoloniality: concepts, analytics, praxis. Durham: Duke University Press.

                        Verges, F., 2019. A decolonial feminism. London: Pluto Press.

                        Purewal, N. K.,and Ung Loh, J., 2021. Coloniality and feminist collusion: breaking free, thinking anew. Feminist Review, 128, pp. 1-12.

                        Persard, S., 2021. The radical limits of decolonising feminism. Feminist Review, 128, pp. 13-27.

                        Materials will be updated here after each lecture.

                        Entry Requirements

                        There are no prerequisites for this course. This course is open to students studying any discipline at University level. We welcome individuals from all backgrounds, including students who are currently studying another subject but who want to broaden their knowledge in another discipline. Students should also meet our standard entry requirements and must be aged 18 or over by the time the Summer School commences and have a good understanding of the English language.

                        Please note changes to the syllabus and teaching team may be made over the coming months before exact set of topics are finalised.

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