Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Brics in World Politics
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 9 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   (1 x 2 hours exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour exam)  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Develop an understanding of the ideas, interests and strategies which inform the foreign policies of the BRICS.
2. Compare and contrast different theoretical approaches to rising powers in international relations.
3. Assess the different utility of theoretical approaches in explaining the foreign policies of the BRICS.
4. Assess the power projection of the BRICS on the global stage and their capacity to shape the existing world order.
5. Identify common patterns and major differences in the diplomatic behavior of the BRICS.
6. Examine the changing role of the BRICS in key areas of contemporary world politics and global governance.
7. Discuss the ways in which the ability of rising powers to act as leaders of smaller states determines their international influence.
8. Critically assess the relevance of the BRICS group as an analytical category of rising powers.

Brief description

The module examines the emergence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in contemporary world politics and assesses the impact of these states on the global order. The module will examine the power projection of each of the BRICS states and provide a comparative framework for understanding the historical conditions which underpin the rise of the BRICS. Students will be introduced to the foreign policies of the five BRICS states and the leading theoretical approaches to rising states within the discipline of International Relations. The module will also examine the role of the BRICS in international economic institutions, the relations of the BRICS with the United States, and the ability of emerging powers to act as regional leaders and operate as bridge-builders between North and South. The module will overall demonstrate that the capacity of the BRICS to effect structural change is conditioned to a considerable degree by their capacity to translate their material resources into diplomatic influence, their ability to represent the interests of smaller states, and their recognition by the North as responsible stakeholders in global governance.


1. Introduction: Understanding the rise of the BRICS
2. Theoretical approaches to multipolarity and unipolarity
Seminar: Conceptualizing the BRICS acronym

3. Critical theory and emerging states
4. Middle power approaches
Seminar: Theorizing the BRICS

5. Third World powers and the non-aligned movement
6. State restructuring, democratisation and development
Seminar: Historical context of the rise of the BRICS

7. China: peaceful rise and superpower status
8. Russia and great power politics
Seminar: Comparative Framework 1: China and Russia

9. India: the foreign policy of strategic autonomy
10. Brazil’s leadership in global governance
Seminar: Comparative Framework 2: India and Brazil

11. South Africa: middle power of the Global South
12. Regional hegemony and leadership
Seminar: BRICS and the Global South

13. Global economic governance
14. The relations of the BRICS with the United States
Seminar: BRICS and the Global Order


The module adds to the teaching programme of the Department by providing a sustained focus on emerging powers in world politics, an area of increasing academic interest within the field of International Relations. The module will strengthen the teaching portfolio of the department in the area of international political economy, and contribute to the inter-related academic areas on diplomacy and global governance. The module will contribute to the study of individual countries by examining the conditions which underpin the rise of each of the BRICS in terms of development, political economy, and foreign policy. The module will also built upon leading theoretical schools of International Relations in order to provide theoretical explanations which critically assess the rise of the BRICS and offer insights on their changing systemic role.

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 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. This module will also involve aural and oral communication skills during seminar performance. Students will also be required to submit their essays 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 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. The need to prepare for assessed seminar participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students’ attention on the need to manage their time.
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.
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 project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of two essays and preparation for seminar discussions 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 estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources materials.
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 • Demonstrate subject specific research techniques 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 6