Contending Approaches to World Politics: Concepts and Theories - POLI6900

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module provides an overview of key theories, concepts and debates in the discipline of international relations: examples of such theories include liberalism, realism, international society approaches, Marxism, critical theory, post-structuralism and feminism. The theories will be introduced and evaluated in terms of their weaknesses and strengths. This will require some discussion of how theories contribute to the formation of knowledge and how they are to be 'tested' or evaluated.


Contact hours

Contact hours: lecture and seminars 22
Private study: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

2,500-word essay (50%)
2-hr exam (50%)

Reassessment: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Dunne, Tim and Kurki, Milja et al, International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 4th ed. 2016)
Jackson, Robert and Sorensen, George et al, Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)
Burchill, Scott and Linklater, Andrew (eds), Theories of International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 5th ed. 2013)
Brown, Chris and Ainley, Kirsten, Understanding International Relations (London: Red Globe Press, 4th ed. 2009)
McGlinchey, Stephen; Scheinpflug, Christian and Walters, Rosie (eds), International Relations Theory (Bristol: E-International Relations Publishing, 2017)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Demonstrate knowledge of key theories and concepts of international relations including significant historical traditions and debates
Demonstrate the ability to subject some of these theories and concepts to critical analysis
Relate theories and concepts of international relations to historical events and contexts
Analyse contemporary international politics in terms of existing theories of international relations
Demonstrate an understanding of how the choice of theories and frameworks shapes policy makers' practical responses to political events and developments


  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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