Analysing World Politics - POLI8240

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
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 course 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 course 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

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 176
Total study hours: 200


Compulsory to: International Relations MA; International Relations and International Law MA
Optional to: MA programmes in Politics and International Relations

Method of assessment

Essay 1, 3000 words (50%)
Essay 2, 3000 words (50%)

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith (eds), International Relations Theories: Discipline and
Diversity, 4th Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
Henrik Bliddal, Casper Sylvest and Peter Wilson (eds), Classics of International Relations: Essays in
Criticism and Appreciation (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013).
Burchill et al. (2013) Theories of International Relations. New York, Palgrave Macmilan.
Lawson, Stephanie (2015): Theories of International Relations: Contending Approaches to World
Zvobgo and Loken, Why Race Matters in IR.
Mohanty, Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Have a critical awareness of the discipline's history
8.2 Demonstrate awareness of the key debates
8.3 Demonstrate an ability to critically identify key debates in the discipline
8.4 Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in IR
8.5 Understand connections between IR theory, political theory and philosophy
8.6 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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