Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Exploring the International 1
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Viewing 1 x 3 Hour Viewing
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word Critical review on selected literature  35%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word Article Review  25%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,000 word Article Review  25%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word critical review on selected literature  35%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a critical knowledge of major concepts in the discipline of International Relations
2. Demonstrate an ability to use these concepts in particular circumstances and refine and/or critique them according to context
3. Demonstrate a broad understanding of the discipline and its futures
4. Demonstrate an ability to present a coherent argument in both oral and written forms
5. Demonstrate an ability to confirm to conventions on presentation and referencing in academic writing

Brief description

This module will offer students a range of different perspectives on the international: theoretical, historical, empirical, critical. These perspectives are introduced via three distinct questions: What is the International? What are the origins of the International? What are the International's key actors? These questions, in turn, are concerned with two key concerns in the discipline of international politics: 1) the intertwinement of and contradictions between the national, the international and the global; and 2) the question of the modern international being a global phenomenon of Western origin – challenges to Western-centric IR.


The module aims to introduce students to the political space of ‘the international’ and familiarise them with basic ideas about how it is organised, and its similarities to and differences from domestic political space. The module will then explore the European/Western origins of the modern international system and how for the first time this system has bound the whole world together. The aim is to provide students with an understanding of the historical character of basic logics of modern international life and of the deep roots of persisting power divisions in the international order. Finally, the module aims to introduce students to different types of actors or agents that populate the international realm and that they will encounter repeatedly in their studies. The module will help students to understand why these are considered to be important, what their principal characteristics are and how the international domain looks when we focus on one of these sets of actors.


Section 1 – What is the international?
The lectures of this section look at the way in which the international is defined through international space, the difference between the domestic and the international, the state system, state sovereignty and national interest and identity. It will explore throughout how these founding concepts of the discipline of International Relations continue to articulate the reality of contemporary world politics while being simultaneously undermined (and proved insufficient) by globalization processes.
Seminars will deal with the specificity of the international and the problematic of international space in a new era of globalization.
Section 2 – What are its origins?
The lectures of this section look at the historical formation of the international, with particular focus on the European system of states and its 19th to 20th century globalization through colonialism de-colonization and the end of the Cold War. Through this historical perspective, alternative orders to this system are then considered, especially in the light of recent and contemporary threats to humanity (the nuclear condition, climate change, global economic and financial instabilities, etc.).
Seminars will deal with the history of the international, its hierarchies and alternative political imagination today.
Section 3 – What are its actors?
The lectures of this section explore the international through the lens of its actors. Due attention is given to strong and weak states within a ‘system-of-states’ approach, with particular focus on hegemonic theory and recent US foreign policy. With shifts of power to the East, but also to other kinds of actors, this section then looks at the importance of the role of Non-State Actors (International Organizations, NGOs, cities, terrorists) in the formation of the contemporary world order.
Seminars will deal with states and non-state actors and political leadership in the contemporary era.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Students will also be required to submit their written assessments in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the module convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and presentation topics.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work electronically. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statement of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of a range of study skills assessments will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and formulate an answer to the problem; reason logically; construct theoretical arguments; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing a range of information sources, including core academic texts.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Evaluate competing perspectives - Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems.
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars. For many of the topics of this module, seminars will consist of small-group discussions where students will be asked to discuss as a group the core issues related to the seminar topic. These class discussions and debates form a significant part of the module, and will allow students to approach and examine a given topic through team work.


This module is at CQFW Level 4