POL42430 Social Theory and International Relations

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module is aimed at students who wish to deepen their understanding of how the study of International Relations (IR) has been enriched by social, sociological and social-psychological research. The module begins by providing students with a grounding in constructivist social theory through an in-depth study of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s classic text “The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge.” Based on these foundations we then examine how approaches to IR have incorporated elements of social theory. Among other things, these pertain to the role of identity, emotions and group attachments, to the question of why individuals are often willing to kill and die in war, to the social and psychological aspects of international integration, and to the potential for democracy and human solidarity developing beyond the boundaries of the state. Please note: this is a face-to-face module and there is no possibility to participate online. Regular in-person attendance is important, along with careful preparation and in-class participation.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should have acquired (a) a solid knowledge of constructivist social theory and its application to International Relations; (b) an understanding of how various social, sociological and social-psychological approaches have shaped different strands of International Relations theory.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a face-to-face module and there is no possibility of participating online. Regular in-person attendance is critical, along with careful preparation and in-class participation. The final module grade is calculated based on in-class participation and an end of term essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Students who sign up to this module and who did not study International Relations in a previous degree are recommended to take Theories of International Relations.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Additional Information:
Students must have taken and passed either of the following two modules: POL41800 or POL40050.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: End-of -term essay Week 12 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: In-class participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn 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?

In-class participation throughout the term. 8000 word essay due at the end of the term.