Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. (20 x 1 hour)
Seminars / Tutorials 8 Hours. (8 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  60%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hour exam)  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Critically assess central approaches to the study of International Relations
Critically apply different approaches to the analysis of topical issues in world politics

Brief description

This module provides an introduction to past and present debates about the prospects for progress in international politics.


The module begins by considering how the subject of IR has developed in the UK through the twentieth century. It considers three central approaches to world politics which debate the extent to which the international system can be reformed. The three approaches are liberal internationalism, realism and the English School or the 'international society' perspective.

The second group of lectures is organised around the theme of morality and world politics. We will consider, amongst other things, ideas about the morality of war, human rights and humanitarian intervention.

A third group of lectures considers the significance of globalization for leading a decent life in different parts of the world. Questions regarding cultural differences in world politics and environmental issues will be considered in these lectures.

A final group of lectures considers recent ideas about cosmopolitan democracy and world citizenship in the context of debates about the future of world politics. The concluding themes include the question of whether it is meaningful to argue that there has been progress in world politics over the last few decades.


1. Introduction to the Module;
Why Study International Politics?
2. Cruelty and Compassion in World Politics

The Development of the British Discipline

3. Liberal Internationalism
4. Realism
5. The English School or International Society Approach
6 Special Lecture on Study Skills: Seminar Participation

Moral Issues in World Politics

7. Moral Issues in World Politics
8. War and Morality
9. Human Rights and Liberal International Society
10. Humanitarian Intervention and Liberal International Society
11. The Development of International Criminal Law

Rising Levels of Human Interconnectedness

12. The Concept of Globalization
13. Discussion Session
14. Global Justice and the International Economy
15. Globalization and the Environment
16. Globalization and Cultural Difference

The Future of World Politics

17. Civilization, Human Interconnectedness and the Future of World Politics
18. World Citizenship and Cosmopolitan Democracy
19. Progress and World Politics
20. Conclusions (The format of the examination will also be discussed in this lecture. There will also be a discussion of ‘exam technique’)


1. Have Western responses to the 'Arab Spring' provided evidence of increasing concern about suffering in other societies?
2. What does the study of International Politics contribute to understanding and/or changing the world?
3. Did realist criticisms of liberal internationalism demonstrate that there is little or no progress in world politics?
4. How helpful is the English School idea of ‘international society’? (Plus discussion of essay preparation).
5. 'Relations between states are about power and security, and not about morality and justice'. Discuss


This module aims to explain the contemporary applications of central traditions of international thought and continuing debates about the nature and possibility of the reform of world politics

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to acquire critical skills through the evaluation of different perspectives to world politics. Skills in assessing different philosophical and cultural standpoints will be developed along with an awareness of the ethical dimensions of policy-making and public life. In addition, transferable skills in analysing different perspectives and in applying them to the analysis of particular case-studies will be developed.

Through lecture and seminars, students will acquire more specific skills in textual interpretation and conceptual understanding. Seminars will provide the opportunity to collaborate in small groups and to make presentations. The essay will develop skills in independent research, structured and balanced argument and clear expression. The examination will develop skills in forward planning and in developing the capacity to assess different perspectives and arguments within time constraints.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Baylis, John & Smith, Steve & Owens, Patricia (eds) (2008.) The globalization of world politics :an introduction to international relations /John Baylis, Steve Smith, Patricia Owens. 4th ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Brown, C (2005) Understanding International Relations Palgrave, Basingstoke Primo search Griffiths, Martin (eds) (2005.) Encyclopedia of international relations and global politics /edited by Martin Griffiths. Routledge Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 4