Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Realism in the American Century
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Participation  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Master the philosophical foundations of Realism.
2. Understand the interplay between thought and events.
3. Be familiar with the methodology of intellectual history.
4. Show how and why classical Realism gave way to structural Realism
5. Analyse the effect of the nuclear revolution upon Realist thought.
6. Discuss how the end of the Cold War challenges structural Realism.

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with a historical overview of the development of Realist thought since the late nineteenth century. We will study the leading Realist works in their historical context, with the aim of demonstrating how Realist thought responded to, as well as sought to analyse, war and peace in the modern period. The course will cover the advent of modern international relations thought before the Second World War, the rise of structural realism in the 1950s, and Realist responses to and elaborations of structural realism over the past half-century.


This module contributes to the Department'r provision in the area of International Relations Theory and International History. It provides students with the opportunity to explore the evolution of Realist thought during the twentieth century and familiarize themselves with contemporary Realist approaches to post-Cold War international politics


1. Philosophical origins and the rise of Social Science
2. Weber
3. Niebuhr
4. Carr
5. Morgenthau
6. Waltz, Man the State and War
7. Waltz, Theory of International Politics
8. Bull and Gilpin
9. Criticism of Realism and the End of the Cold War
10. Realism in the post-Cold War World

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will review data concerning the application of military force in international relations in order to critically examine the underlying epistemological issues.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand 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 the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and 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. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication. Fellow students will be encouraged to question the paper-giver to critique their approach or to suggest areas for the development of the chosen topic; in turn each will discuss the contributions and ideas of the other.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essays and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as BIDS and OCLC).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students’ verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of an essay will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project 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 estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; engage with theory; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
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 • Ability to critically evaluate competing perspectives • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques • Apply a range of methodologies to complex strategic problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 7