Module Identifier IP30120  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr William W Bain  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Miss Natalie A Williams, Mrs Sharon A Haird  
Course delivery Lecture   16 Hours (16 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   8 Hours (8 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  50%
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  50%
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 completion of the module, students will be able to:

- Critically assess the range of contending theories of international politics
- Describe and analyze the work of at least one major thinker presenting each approach
- Evaluate the central concepts belonging to each theory
- Compare different theories, and communicate their relevance
- Analyze the relationship between theory and practice in specific contexts

Brief description

This module provides a core disciplinary training in international political theory. It does this by engaging with all the main contending approaches to the subject.


This module aims to build on the international political theory taught at Part 1, while acting as a bridge to mode specialist options in Part 2. One of the central thematics framing the module is the importance of linking theory to practice: from the personal to the international, our lives are constituted by and shaped through an engagement with political theory.


The course begins by recapitulating the main traditions of IR theorising, such as liberalism and classical realism. It quickly moves to focus on the debate triggered by Kenneth Waltz's Theory of International Politics. This text not only succeeded in reinvigorating realism, it also provoked a wide range of critical responses. The last of this type was Alexander Wendt's Social Theory of International Politics. Within this 20 year time frame, several important theoretical innovations have taken place, including the emergence of critical theory, feminist theory and post-structuralism.

Transferable skills

This module provides students with an opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to conceptualize and evaluate examples and ideas. Directed reading, in advance of weekly seminars, will enable students to practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills. Theories like neorealism and liberal democratic peace theory require an engagement with positivism, including using models and the analysis of historical data. Lectures aid the development of comprehension skills, including note-taking: seminars help to enhance communicative skills as well as the ability to listen and participate actively in focused discussion. The module also involves one case study which is designed to show the relevance of theory to a particular context. Such an approach to learning requires that students immerse themselves in a particular role. The list of transferable skills culminates with the enhancement of independent research (essay) and the capacity to analyze and formulate arguments under time constraints (exam).

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Scott Burchill & Andrew Linklater et al (2000) Theories of International Relations 2nd. London: Palgrave
Paul Viotti and Mark Kauppi eds (2000) International Relations Theory 3rd. New York: Macmillan


This module is at CQFW Level 6