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Unit of study_

GOVT1621: Introduction to International Relations

This unit provides students with a foundational understanding in two key areas of international relations. First students will gain an understanding of the history of the international political and economic system, and the forces, events, and processes that have shaped the contemporary international system. Second, students will be introduced to the main theories of international relations and explore how these help explain the forces that shape international relations.


Academic unit Government and International Relations
Unit code GOVT1621
Unit name Introduction to International Relations
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Megan MacKenzie,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Take-home essay
2000 words
40% Formal exam period 2.5+ hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Essay proposal
Scaffolding assignment in preparation for the final essay.
20% Week 06 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4
Assignment Final Essay
Research essay
30% Week 12 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Participation Tutorial participation
Attendance and participation
10% Weekly ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO1

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: what is international relations? Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 War, Peace, and the State Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
How to get the most out of tutorials Tutorial (1 hr) LO5
Week 03 Realism Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
1. Realism 2. How to get the most out of tutorials Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 04 Feminism Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
1. Feminism 2. How to take notes effectively Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 05 Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism and Citizenship Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
1. Liberalism, neo-liberalism and citizenship 2. How to get the core ideas out of a reading Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 06 Environmental Governance and Protection Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
1. Environmental governance and protection 2. Research and citation 101 Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 07 Constructivism Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
1. Constructivism 2. How to avoid plagiarism Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Inequality and Wealth Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Inequality and Wealth Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 09 Marxism and Global Inequality Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Marxism and global inequality Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 10 Security and International Development Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Security and international development Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Poststructuralism Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Poststructuralism Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 12 Post-colonialism Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Post-colonialism Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Revision Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Review and revision Tutorial (1 hr) LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the historical context in which the discipline of international relations has emerged
  • LO2. identify the various theoretical approaches to understanding international relations
  • LO3. apply one or more of these theories to contemporary issues in international relations
  • LO4. effectively communicate an understanding of outcomes 1-3
  • LO5. engage in classroom debate regarding competing theories of international relations.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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