Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Assessment 2,000 words essay  30%
Semester Assessment 4,000 words essay  60%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Appreciate the meaning of the notions of power and domination and understand the debates over such concepts taking place in social theory.
2. Evaluate the key theoretical lines of the different approaches to power in social theory.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the salience of such approaches for the way International Relations understands the concepts of power and domination.
4. Be able to apply these approaches to debates on the future of the state.


This module adds to the Departmental provision in the area of International Relations. It complements existing provision in this area and allows interested students to gain specialist knowledge of how the issues of power and domination are approached in social theory. It covers for a lack of provision in the area of social theory, on which many International Relations theories draw. It replaces a previous module called Critical Theories taught by Milja Kurki.

Brief description

This module examines the main theoretical approaches to the issues of power and domination in social theory and relates them to the way such notions are understood in International Relations.

The first part of this module aims to offer Part II students an overview of the main contributions to understanding power and domination in social theory. The way such concepts are conceived and discussed within the different sociological traditions is of direct relevance to International Relations students. Students will have come across such notions in their study of international relations but have rarely had the opportunity to fully explore their origins in social theory. For this purpose, the module engages the key social theory perspectives on power and domination: Max Weber, Karl Marx, Frankfurt School, Gramsci, Foucault and Laclau and Mouffe.
The second part of the module sets out to relate these approaches to International Relations in an attempt to emphasise the existence of specific sociological legacies on power within the field. It will conclude with the application of the different approaches to debates on the future of the state in order to show their relevance for the study of international relations.


1. Introduction
Part I: Power and domination in social theory
2. Karl Marx
3. Max Weber
4. The Frankfurt School
5. Antonio Gramsci
6. Michel Foucault and Ernesto Laclau /Chantal Mouffe
Part II: Power and domination in International Relations
7. Weberian and Frankfurt School legacies on power in IR
8. Marxist and Gramscian legacies on power in IR
9. Foucaultian and post-Marxist challenges
10. The future of the state
11. Revision

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas orally 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 in their thinking and to be direct about aims and objectives.
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 essay 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 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, construct theoretical models, consider similar cases, look for patterns, and 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 evaluate competing perspectives; * Demonstrate subject specific research techniques; * Apply a range of methodologies to complex political 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 6