Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)
Lecture 10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1,500 words  20%
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Assessment Extended Written Assignment: 1 x 4,500 words  70%
Supplementary Exam Resit opportunities for this module will be available in the Supplementary examination period. F resit: The student will re-sit the module by examination only for a 'capped' pass mark (40). H resit: The student will submit missing coursework elements and/or re-sit by examination in the upplementary exam period in lieu of a missed/failed exam for full marks. Students re-sitting elements of failed coursework are required to select a different essay/assignment title and must not submit re-written versions of the original essay/assignment.  

Learning Outcomes

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

- demonstrate a good understanding of approaches described as poststructural
- discuss some of the ethico-political questions raised by this work
- demonstrate a familiarity with key poststructuralist writers, based on a direct reading of their texts.

Brief description

Research inspired by post-structuralist approaches forms a challenging contribution to recent international relations, political theory and postcolonialism. There are two linked modules that explore this field. This first module, which is introductory, looks at the writings of thinkers associated with the move. There are no prerequisites, apart from a willingness to read in depth and engage with the material.


The module begins with a brief examination of Nietzsche and Saussure and then focuses on four writers - Foucault, Derrida, Agamben and Butler. The course is divided into three sections. The first section is introductory and looks at how Nietzsche and Saussure have informed contemporary poststructural thought. The second part looks at issues of power, sovereignty and the law in the work of Foucault, Derrida and Agamben. The third part concentrates on freedom, ethics and 'the community to come' in the work of Foucault, Agamben, Derrida and Butler.


Section A
1. Course introduction and outline
2. Genealogy, values and the uses of history
3. Decentering the subject of language

Section B: Power, sovereignty and the law
4. Foucault I: power, sovereignty and government
5. Derrida I: the force of law
6. Agamben I: sovereignty and bare life

Section C: Ethics, freedom and the coming community
7. Foucault II: freedom, ethics and resistance
8. Derrida II: the politics of friendship
9. Agamben II: the coming community
10. Butler: agency and performativity

Section A
SEMINAR 1: Introduction
SEMINAR 2: Nietzsche
SEMINAR 3: Saussure

Section B: Power, sovereignty and the law
SEMINAR 4: Foucault I
SEMINAR 5: Derrida I
SEMINAR 6: Agamben I

Section C: Ethics, freedom and 'the coming community'
SEMINAR 7: Foucault II
SEMINAR 8: Derrida II
SEMINAR 9: Agamben II
SEMINAR 10: Butler


This module, which is introductory, allows students to develop a critical appreciation and understanding of poststructural work through a reading of primary writings. They will then be well placed to go on if they wish to study scholars of international politics or other disciplines who draw on this work. The module concentrates on giving a flavour of the excitement of these approaches, rather than examining the debates between postmodernism and its critics.

Transferable skills

This module deals with material that is very intellectually demanding and will help students develop keen analytical abilities, patience and perseverance. During the seminars they will have the opportunity to learn how to facilitate group discussions, to practice their skills in explaining and discussing their own ideas, and to select material suitable for inclusion in discussion. The final written assignment demands individual initiative in researching a topic, finding material and producing a coherent written piece of some length.

10 ECTS credits

Reading List

General Text
Caroline Williams (2001) Contemporary French philosophy: modernity and the persistence of the subject. London: Athlone Press Primo search Edkins, Jenny. (1999.) Poststructuralism and international relations :bringing the political back in /Jenny Edkins. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6