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Introduction to International Relations

  • Module code: PO4003
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 4
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module provides students with an introduction to foundational concepts in the study of international relations and significant issues in contemporary international politics through which these concepts can be understood and interpreted.  The module is designed to help students to reconcile the more abstract concepts that frame the academic study of international relations, with the empirical issues they may more familiar with from news media and their day-to-day engagement with international politics.  The module is designed to provide a foundation for the study of international relations theory at Level 5 and to help students develop skills in academic writing, researching and writing a report for a non-specialist audience.

Aims

  • To introduce students to the foundational concepts for the academic study of international relations
  • To facilitate student exploration and research of contemporary issues in international politics 
  • To develop student’s skills in reconciling academic concepts with the ‘real world’ issues within international politics, providing a foundation for their further study at Levels Five and Six
  • To build student capacity to interact with peers in their discussion of the pertinent themes, concepts and issues in international relations   

Learning outcomes

  • Indentify the principle structures and processes in international relations
  • Engage in a preliminary research of the academic literature of international relations and relevant policy-based literature
  • Critically engage with material from a variety of academic and policy sources
  • Draw links between academic concepts in international relations and contemporary empirical issues in international politics
  • To explain debates, controversies and problems evident in international political issues and formulate suggestions for change

Curriculum content

Part One: Concepts of International Relations

  • The idea of international relations
  • The Cold War 1945-1989
  • The post-Cold War world
  • Anarchy and the state in international relations
  • Co-operation, global governance and international organisations
  • Ethics and international relations
  • International law
  • War and peace
  • Imperialism and hegemony
  • Hidden voices in international relations
  • Looking beyond the state: New forms of political community

 Part Two: Contemporary Issues in International Politics

  • Connecting concepts with the 'real world' of globalisation
  • Security and Resilience
  • Terrorism
  • Nuclear weapons and proliferation
  • Human Rights and the Responsibility to Protect
  • Planning your Policy Report: Framing the problem, finding the evidence and making  recommendations for non-specialists
  • Aid and development
  • The global economy
  • The environment and climate change
  • Moving people: Refugees and migration
  • How do we change the world?

Teaching and learning strategy

Introduction to International Relations is taught  via a three-hour workshop. Workshops provide a basic introduction to the key concepts and issues around which the module is structured. Films and other AV material will be used to supplement the presentation given by the lecturer.

Workshops will also be used to provide a forum for wider group discussion on this material, consolidating lecture content and the student’s weekly background research. Exercises may involve discussions of original source excerpts, policy simulations or role plays to support student’s understanding of the module content. Workshops are supported throughout the year by worksheets to help students to structure their background reading and prepare them for the session exercises. Worksheets will also provide the opportunity for formative feedback on student’s weekly research.

In the second semester, students will have the opportunity to select an issue in which they are interested and undertake a more in-depth policy report task. Some of the workshop time will be used for guided group study sessions, to allow students time to discuss their ongoing policy report project with other students examining the same issue. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 x 3 hour lectures Workshops 66
Guided independent study Weekly reading and research + preparation of worksheets, final essay and policy report 234
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy has three components:

  1. 2000 word seminar worksheet portfolio
  2. 2000 word issue-based policy report 

Formative feedback will be embedded in the seminar worksheet exercise, with students being provided with several opportunities for feedback on their weekly background research and seminar preparation.

For the summative essay, formative feedback will be available in the synoptic link with Studying Politics, that allows students to attain feedback on an assessed essay plan.

Verbal feedback/feed forward will also be provided to students as part of the group study sessions, both from peer review and from seminar tutors.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Indentify the principle structures and processes in international relations In Weekly seminar worksheets.This LO may also be addressed indirectly in the issue-based policy report
2) Engage in a preliminary research of the academic literature of international relations and relevant policy-based literature Seminar worksheets and the policy report
3) Critically engage with material from a variety of academic and policy sources In seminar worksheets and the policy report
4) Draw links between academic concepts in international relations and contemporary empirical issues in international politics In the policy report and seminar worksheets
5) To explain debates, controversies and problems evident in international political issues and formulate suggestions for change The policy report
6) Demonstrate the ability to develop an argument and employ academic conventions such as referencing, evidence provision and presentation of bibliography The policy report

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK 2000 word seminar worksheets portfolio 50
CWK 2000 word issue-based policy report 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Michael Nicholson (2002) International Relations: Concise Introduction, 2nd Edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave

John Baylis, Steve Smith & Patricia Owens (Eds.) (2010) The Globalisation of World Politics, 5th Edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfus (Eds.) (2009) Global Politics: A New Introduction, London, Routledge

Chris Brown (2005) Understanding International Relations, 3rd Edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Bibliography recommended reading

Young, John & John Kent (2004) International Relations Since 1945, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Booth, Ken & Tim Dunne (2002) Worlds in Collision: Terror and the future of the global order, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Sorensen, Georg (2003) The Transformation of the State: Beyond the Myth of Retreat, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Armstrong, David (2004) International Organisation in World Politics, 3rd Edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave    

Kaldor, Mary (2007) Human Security, Cambridge, Polity Press

Shapcott, Richard (2009) International Ethics: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge, Polity Press

Goldsmith, Jack (2007) The Limits of International Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Weiss, Thomas (2007) Humanitarian Intervention, Cambridge, Polity Press

Shaw, Martin (2003) War & Genocide, Cambridge, Polity Press

Kaldor, Mary (1999) New and Old Wars, Cambridge, Polity Press

Archibugi, Daniele & David Held (1995) Cosmopolitan democracy: An agenda for a new world order, Cambridge, Polity Press

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