POL41800 Theories of International Relations – Stream 2

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module offers an introduction to the field of International Relations theory. It seeks to provide students with an in-depth coverage of past and recent developments in theories of International Relations. This module is broken down into two segments. The first segment is an investigation of the broader theories and approaches that are prominent in international relations. Specifically, we will examine general approaches to international relations, i.e., realism, neorealism, neoliberalism, and constructivism, and their variants. The second half of the module examines a major sub-discipline of international relations, International Political Economy. Throughout the module, the emphasis will be on providing students with methodological tools and theoretical concepts that have relevance beyond the topics dealt with, and also to develop grounded understandings of the ‘real world’ relevance of international relations theory, taking account of contemporary global shifts and challenges. The readings include both the classic and recent literature with different theoretical and methodological orientations.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be in a good position to:
- Be familiar with foundational literature in the study of International Relations;
- Have substantive knowledge on major disciplinary debates, topics and controversies in the areas of conflict and cooperation in the field of International Relations and a major sub-discipline of international relations, International Political Economy;
- Understand key theories and how to apply them to current events;
- Be able to critically engage with the scholarly literature on International Relations.

Indicative Module Content:

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will familiarize you with some of the most important theories in the contemporary study of international relations. The first part of the module is centered on what is commonly described as ‘mainstream’ international relations theory; theories such as realism, neorealism, neoliberalism and constructivism. In the second half of the module, we will examine a major sub-discipline of international relations, International Political Economy. Throughout the module, we apply these approaches to a variety of substantive issues in international politics, such as interstate and intrastate conflict, international cooperation, globalization and current challenges to multilateralism and the contemporary global liberal economic order. The module will be taught through in-depth analysis of the various theoretical approaches. Close attention will be paid to how these theories can be applied to real-world international politics by examining a diversity of examples and case studies. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: In-class exam Unspecified No Graded No


Essay: Essay 1: an analytical paper (1500-2000 words) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Final Exam: Essay 2 - 3000 words Unspecified n/a Graded No


Attendance: Class Participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Essay 2: an analytical paper (1500-2000 words) Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided to students within 20 working days of the deadline for the assignment in according to university policy.