Analysing World Politics - POLI8240

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Timothy Aistrope checkmark-circle


Whenever we make a statement about international affairs, and world politics we rely on certain (often implicit) theoretical assumptions: about power, interests, identities, norms and how they relate to the behaviour of international actors. Whether we like it or not, we are 'doomed' to rely on theories. The starting-point of this module is not that theories are the only possible and all-encompassing approach to the study of international affairs, but that they are helpful to understand, compare and critically evaluate interpretations of international issues: if we all use theoretical assumptions, we better make them explicit and understood, to make sure what exactly we are claiming.

International Relations theories are not approached as strict categories with clear boundaries, but rather as a continuously evolving debate. The module does not attempt to give an encyclopaedic overview of all theories of International Relations, but rather to confront different views. The main objective is to understand the core differences between different theoretical approaches.


Contact hours

Private Study: 176
Contact Hours: 24
Total: 200


Compulsory to the following courses:
• International Relations MA
• International Relations and International Law MA

This module is available to all students on MA courses within the School of Politics and International Relations.

Also available as an elective module.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Essay 1 1500 words 30%
Essay 2 4000 words 70%

Reassessment methods
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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Have a critical awareness of the discipline's history
2 Demonstrate awareness of the key debates
3 Demonstrate an ability to critically identify key debates in the discipline
4 Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in IR
5 Understand connections between IR theory, political theory and philosophy
6 Show awareness of methodological and epistemological implications of theoretical positions


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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