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international relations

Topics covered


Unit One – States, nations, and countries: This unit introduces students to regional and global issues facing International Relations (IR). The six sections cover basic IR concepts and essential information about different parts of the world. This gives students empirical knowledge they will need to engage with issues facing regional and global international societies.

  • Section 1: An Introduction to IR

  • Section 2: Africa

  • Section 3: the Americas

  • Section 4: East Asia & the Pacific

  • Section 5: South & Southwest Asia

  • Section 6: Europe and the former Soviet Union.


By the end of this unit, students should be able to define key concepts; identify the world’s states on a political map and discuss their power; identify major physical features and socio‐cultural divisions of regions; and comment on basic elements of international societies.


Unit Two – Four models of IR: The aim of this unit is to provide students with the theoretical tools needed to analyse world events. It introduces four different ways of understanding international events at the global and/or regional scale, defining key terminology and assessing the ability of each approach to inform our understanding of specific issues in International Relations.

  • Section 1: the English School

  • Section 2: Liberal Institutionalism

  • Section 3: Realism

  • Section 4: Marxism.


By the end of this unit, students should be able to: explain the main arguments of the English School, Liberalism, Realism, and Marxism; define important terms and concepts associated with each theory, and use each set of arguments to explain an international event.


Unit Three – Analysing regional issues: This unit asks students to use Unit Two’s theoretical tools to analyse regional issues in IR. Its aim is to discuss the context behind regional issues; to consider them from four different theoretical perspectives, and to use the resulting information to analyse events.

  • Section 1: Humanitarian Intervention in Africa

  • Section 2: Non‐State Transnational Actors and International Organizations in the Americas

  • Section 3: International Security in East Asia and the Pacific

  • Section 4: Terrorism and Globalization in South and Southwest Asia

  • Section 5: Regime Building in Europe and the former Soviet Union.


By the end of this Unit, students should be able to explain the context of each issue; consider its implications for English School, Liberal, Realist, and Marxist theory, and use different theoretical perspectives to analyse ongoing events.


Unit Four – Global issues in international society: This unit asks students to analyse key international issues at a global scale, using IR theories and concepts to explain context and evaluate proposed solutions.

  • Section 1: The Changing Character of War

  • Section 2: Development

  • Section 3: Global Environmental Change

  • Section 4: Key International Organisations

  • Section 5: Analysing the International Order.


By the end of this unit students should be able to: explain the context of the issue under discussion; trace its impact on global international society; use IR theories to propose solutions to each issue and evaluate proposed solutions on the basis of their empirical and theoretical assumptions.

Learning outcomes


If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Identify and explain key concepts and theories in IR

  • Connect these concepts and theories to regional and global international issues

  • Discuss major world events in the news

  • Analyse these events from a number of theoretical perspectives.

Essential reading


Baylis, J., Smith, S. and Owens, P. (2010) The Globalization of World Politics. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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