International Relations module (PO21001)

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Module code


Module Details

The module is divided into two sections. The first of these is concerned with theoretical and conceptual aspects of international relations. The second is designed to illustrate these by reference to the major processes of the international system.

The first section explores International Relations as a field of study, tracing its history as an intellectual discipline from the end of the First World War. The global political environment is then examined and its characteristics as a 'system' explored. Attention then focuses on the competing perspectives - or 'paradigms' - of international relations, the general 'models' of interaction which set out to illustrate the 'driving forces' of international relations. These are:

  • Realism/Neo-Realism (or Power Politics)
  • Pluralism (or Interdependency)
  • Structural Dependency (or Dependency Theory)

The second section then explores the 'processes' of international relations - both co-operative and conflictual (diplomacy; international law; international organization; economic conflict; terrorism; war etc).

Module Aims

This module is designed to introduce students to the structures and processes which characterise relationships in the contemporary international system, and to place these structures and processes in their historical context. It aims to encourage the development of a truly 'global' perspective on politics by demonstrating the range and extent of 'non-domestic' influences on national political and economic systems.


The assessed components on this module are:

  • One 2,000 word essay (50% of total mark)
  • One unseen 2-hour examination (50% of total mark)


There will be 21 one-hour lectures (two per week weeks 1-6 and 8-11), and eleven one-hour tutorials (one per week).

Intentended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • At the end of this module students will have acquired a detailed knowledge and understanding of the underlying concepts of contemporary international relations.
  • They will also have acquired an understanding of the inter-play of conflict and co-operation in contemporary international politics.
  • Students will be aware of the international 'systemic' constraints operating on national political systems.


  • Students will develop analytical and research skills with reference to contemporary international relations.
  • Students will develop discussion skills.
  • They will also work on the development of team-working skills towards problem-solving.



This module is available on following courses: