International History and International Relations - POLI3050

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module introduces first year undergraduate students to some of the key historical events of modern history, and related debates and questions that have occupied the discipline of International Relations (IR). The focus is on communicating a few key themes, ideas, issues and principles that recur throughout the history of the last hundred years, and that cut across various theoretical approaches and different schools of thought. These key ideas include: war, conflict, violence and terror; international reformism; the nature of international order under conditions of anarchy; the balance of power; the influence of ideology on international affairs and on theorising; the tension between order and justice in the international sphere; and the nature of imperialism and its effects. Exploration of these themes, ideas, and issues emerges through analysis of the World Wars, the Cold War, decolonisation and the emergence of the US as the world's sole superpower in the post-Cold War era. The course places an emphasis on historical events between the global North and South, as these events often led to dramatic shifts and changes in international relations and foreign policy. Students will be encouraged to identify significant continuities and changes in international politics across the period studied.


Contact hours

11 lectures and 11 seminars

Method of assessment

50% coursework (essay of 2000 words), 50% exam (2hr)

Indicative reading

John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens (eds.), The Globalization of World Politics, 6th Edition, (Oxford: OUP, 2013).

Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss (eds.), Global Politics, A New Introduction, Second edition (London: Routledge, 2013).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will:
Have a basic knowledge of some of the key themes and events in the study of international history;
Be able to relate these historical debates to some of the key debates in International Relations theory;
Have an introductory knowledge of some of the International Relations literature relating to issues of war and peace, security, foreign policy, sovereignty, and inequality;
Have an understanding of war, terror, empire and revolutions as the 'motors' of history;
Be able to discuss liberal alternatives to war such as international organizations and the democratic peace principle, and have a basic knowledge of the 'end of history' thesis and its relevance.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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