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Introduction to International Politics: Global Hierarchies and Global Orders - POL00015C

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Graeme Davies
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Through this module, students gain a general understanding about the nature and evolution of international hierarchies and global political order(s). The module offers a critical discussion about the trajectory and relevance of key institutions, ideas, and moments that have shaped global order(s) and how we think about it over the last four centuries, highlighting their context of emergence, ideational basis, and explicit and implicit patterns of exclusions, while discussing their relevance to understand a variety of issues, debates, and tensions in contemporary world affairs.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module explores the trajectory, relevance, and ideological underpinnings of major institutions and events that have shaped global order(s) over the last four centuries. By discussing these institutions and events in their historical and geographical context, the module pursues four general aims.

First, it traces the complex processes shaping the emergence, evolution, and change of specific ideas, norms, and forms of international organisation that regulated global order(s) and transnational affairs at different points in time, unpacking their functioning, limitations, contradictions, asymmetries, and contemporary relevance.

Second, it relativises the Western-centric character of certain ideas, norms, and institutions of global order, considering the process by which these ideas and institutions became global and displaced alternative forms of ordering, and considers the multiple implications this process has had, and continues to have, in terms of how global order is conceived, regulated, and/or imposed.

Third, it enables students to reflect on the nature of power and hierarchy in world politics and to gain critical insight on a number of debates, challenges, and unresolved dilemmas at play in contemporary global politics.

Fourth, it provides a solid conceptual foundation for the study of different paradigms and theories of international relations and diverse area-issues during the following years, while enabling students to engage analytically with both historical events and emerging developments in world politics.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify core concepts and debates surrounding the origins, functioning, and relevance of major institutions and ideas shaping current and past global orders (PLO1)

  • Identify and use critical reasoning to analyse the historical and geographical origins and character of major global institutions and ideas and their implications (PLO2)

  • Use critical reasoning to analyse the role of power, hierarchy, and inequality in shaping different institutional configurations, ideas, and forms of global ordering (PLO2)

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the methods that scholars in international politics use to approach research questions, gather and interpret data and justify conclusions (PLO3)

  • Communicate according to established academic conventions in International Politics to present arguments using key facts and concepts through examination answers (PLO5).


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open exam : 4-hr Open Exam
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Open exam : 4-hr Open Exam
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 25 working days; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Spruyt, Hendrik. The sovereign state and its competitors: An analysis of systems change. Vol. 176. Princeton University Press, 1996.

Hobsbawm, Eric. Age of extremes: the short twentieth century, 1914-1991. London: Abacus, 1995.

Long, David, and Brian C. Schmidt, eds. Imperialism and internationalism in the discipline of international relations. SUNY Press, 2005.

Watson, A. (2009). The Evolution of International Society: A Comparative Historical Analysis. Routledge.

Buzan, Barry, and George Lawson. The global transformation: history, modernity and the making of international relations. Vol. 135. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Acharya, Amitav, and Barry Buzan. The making of global international relations. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Getachew, Adom. Worldmaking after Empire. Princeton University Press, 2019.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.