Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 22 Hours. 1 x 2 hour seminars per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Presentation: 1 x 20 minutes  20%
Semester Assessment Project work: 1 x 1,500 words written up paper  20%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

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

- A critical awareness of the key debates surrounding the history and development of inter-state practices
- Identifying key issues concerning the historiography of International Relations Theory
- Reflecting upon key theories and concepts in contemporary international politics
- The identification of key cleavages and points of contact between International Relations Theory and Political Theory
- Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between International Relations Theory and contemporary debates in the philosophy of social science
- Systematic analysis of methodological and epistemological implications of a wide range of theoretical positions
- The confidence to hold their own in relevant academic contexts (seminars, workshops, conferences) for specialists in International Politics.

Brief description

This module provides a comprehensive examination of theories of international relations, beginning with the emergence of the modern states system and ending with contemporary debates concerning the ontology, epistemology, and methodology of the study of International Relations (IR)


This Semester 1 core module aims to provide an advanced specialism in:

- Power and the state since 1648
- Law and norms and patterns of cooperation
- Revolutionary challenges to international order
- Great debates in IR since 1919
- The scientific study of IR
- Waltz and his critics
- The post-positivist 'turn'


The module opens with a reflection on the development of the Westphalian system. Here we will consider key concepts such as sovereignty, balance of power, capitalism, state formation, and the diplomatic and legal order. These practices evolved long before the organised study of International Relations (IR) but one of the key themes in this part of the course is to show how philosophical and theoretical arguments grounded the evolution of the international system. It has become commonplace to date the beginnings of the field from 1919 but this been contested by 'revisionists' historiographers in recent years. Following this we will be considering traditional accounts of idealism, realism, behaviouralism and the English School, as well as critical reflections on these. Finally the module considers contemporary IR theory including Waltz's powerful scientific restatement of realism and a range of critical reactions to it; including feminism, critical theory, post-structuralism and constructivism.

Transferable skills

Throughout the teaching and the assessment of the module the students will develop a range of transferable skills. The module will require the use of IT skills and general research skills in order to identify and search for appropriate data and sources. Students will also develop: critical thinking; rational argumentation strategies; logical thinking; writing skills; reading strategies; note-taking; report writing; presentational skills; and team working.

10 ECTS Credits


This module is at CQFW Level 7