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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Politics Short Name: POL513
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: GUERRINA R Dr (Politics)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Spring Semester (Semester 2)
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment




Weighting Towards Module Mark


Essay (2500 words)


Essay 2 (2500 words)




Qualifying Condition(s)   

 A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module.

Module Overview

The module explores a range of theoretical approaches to study of International Relations thus introducing students to different ways current trends in the international system. The module will follow a historiographical approach thus starting with the “classical debates in IR theories, then moving on to mainstream debates and concluding with critical approaches. 



Module Aims

This introductory module seeks to:

  •  Assess contemporary debates and disciplinary concerns in International Relation   
  • Evaluate the development of International Relations as a discipline through the analysis of theoretical paradigms. 
  •  Evaluate continuities and change in contemporary theoretical discourses.   
  • Introduce students to the post-structuralist challenge in International Relations 
  •  Evaluate the contributions of each theoretical approach to our understanding of contemporary trends in Internal Relations.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

 Knowledge and understanding 

  •  Identify key features of theoretical approaches in International Relations.   
  • Show detailed understanding key debates in the field of International Relations 
  •  Evaluate current trends in International Relations literature.  

Cognitive skills 

  •  Analytical skills; 
  • Synthesis and evaluation;   
  • Application of theoretical approaches to the analysis of political trends
  • Practical skills 
  •  Form effective arguments 
  • Organise workload to meet deadlines
  • Transferable skills 

  •  Writing skills 
  • Presentation skills 
  •  Evaluation skills

Module Content
  • Introduction
    This part of the module looks at the current state of the discipline, thus providing students with a general introduction to International Relations and the theories that seek to explain state actions and other socio-political trends in the International System
  •  Historical Approaches
    Here we will look at the development of International Relations as a discipline from the establishment of the first chair in International Politics in 1919. The main approaches that will be assessed in this context are: idealism, realism and behaviourism
  • Mainstream Debates
    Key features of mainstream International Relations theories and thus focus on alternative approaches to understanding the role of the state in the international system will be evaluated in this part of the module. Particular attention will be paid to the role of the state as an international actor, as such it will look at the following approaches: neo-realism, neo-liberalism, structuralism and international society.

  • Critical Approaches
    The post-structuralist challenge has put forward of the most criticisms of state and the international system. The aim of these sessions is to look at theories that challenge the state-centrism of mainstream debates. The main approaches looked at in this part of the module are: feminist theories, critical theory, post-modernism

Methods of Teaching/Learning
Lectures, seminars, debates & discussions, presentations, independent learning
Selected Texts/Journals


 Jackson, R. and Sørensen, G. (2003) Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches (2nd ed) Oxford University Press: Oxford


 Booth, K. and Smith, S. (1995) International Relations Theory Today. Polity: Cambridge

 Burchill, s. et al (2001) Theories of International Relations. Palgrave: Basingstoke

 Smith, S. et al, (1996) International Theory: Positivism & Beyond. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge

 Viotti, P. R. and Kauppi, M. V. (1998) International Relations Theory (3rd ed) Peason Publishing: London


Baylis, J. and Smith, S. (2005) The Globalization of World Politics (3rd ed). Oxford University Press: Oxford .

 Carlsnaes, W. et al (2005) Handbook of International Relations. Sage: London 

Last Updated
16 December 2010