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Themes and Theories in International Relations

Module Description

This module enables students to understand, explain, critique, and apply contemporary International Relations theory. The module examines contemporary International Relations theory at an advanced level. Students will examine how we come to know what International Relations is, and consider debates over the role of theory in explaining, understanding and constituting International Relations. The module introduces students to a range of contemporary issues in International Relations and explores how application of different conceptual frameworks generates different forms of understanding and explanation.

Module Objectives

Students will therefore develop a detailed understanding of competing theoretical perspectives in International Relations and an important awareness of the relationship between theory, context and practice and the contingency of knowledge claims about international politics.

Preliminary Reading

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith, International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, 2nd Ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Richard Mansbach and Kirsten Rafferty, Introduction to Global Politics (London: Routledge, 2008).

Steve Smith, Ken Booth, and Marysia Zalewski, International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

For those with no political science or international relations background read:

Dan Drezner, Theories of International Politics and Zombies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).


One essay of 4000 words (100% of total mark).

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International Relations