Module Identifier IP31020  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Simona-Elena Rentea  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Simona-Elena Rentea  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)  
  Lecture   10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
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 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:
- 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

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. Lectures introducing key areas are accompanied by seminars based on careful readings of selected texts supported by extensive discussions. The lectures include opportunities for questions and debate. Seminars will be student-led.


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   

1. Introduction
2. Nietzsche
3. Saussure
4. Foucault I
5. Derrida I
6. Agamben I
7. Foucault II
8. Derrida II
9. Agamben II
10. Butler


By the end of the module students should be able 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 Lists

** General Text
Culler, Jonathan. (1989) On deconstruction :theory and criticism after structuralism /Jonathan Culler.
Edkins, Jenny. (1999.) Poststructuralism and international relations :bringing the political back in /Jenny Edkins.
Michel Foucault (2000) Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984 London: Penguin Books
Sheridan, Alan Michael Foucault: The Will to Truth
Stavrakakis, Yannis. (1999.) Lacan and the political.
** Should Be Purchased
Jacques Derrida (1997) The Politics of Friendship London: Verso.
** Recommended Text
Giorgio Agamben (1995) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life Stanford: Stanford University Press
Giorgio Agamben (2000) Means without ends: Notes on Politics Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
Giorgio Agamben (1993) The Coming Community Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6