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Unit of study_

GOVT6147: Foundations of International Relations

Why do states behave the way they do? Using a historical perspective, this unit explores the ways in which the different theories of international relations account for what shapes the international system - who are its main actors, what are its determining forces and structures. It examines both how these theories have vied with one another within inter-paradigm debates and how they developed in relation to specific historical events. These theories include realism, idealism, neorealism, neoliberal institutionalism, Marxism, the English school, constructivism, poststructuralism, feminism, post-colonial approaches. While no prior study of international relations is required, a willingness to engage with theoretical thinking and grapple with complex questions of ontology and epistemology is essential.

Code GOVT6147
Academic unit Government and International Relations
Credit points 6

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

  • LO1. demonstrate a sound basis of knowledge of the different theoretical approaches that define the field of International Relations (IR) and of their founding concepts; with a view to being able to subsequently apply these to its other issue-areas
  • LO2. demonstrate the ability to apprehend contemporary international issues through theoretical lenses and to understand, discuss, and explore the relations between theory and practice in the study of international relations
  • LO3. engage in critical analysis of the contending approaches through which international issues are understood in order to differentiate between academic and polemical writing/reporting
  • LO4. demonstrate a capacity for critical reflection so that the assumptions underpinning the study of IR can be effectively scrutinized.