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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: International Relations Theory (PGSP11156)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe discipline of international relations is a relatively young academic subject, only emerging as a distinct field within political science in the aftermath of World War I. To differentiate itself from the disciplines of international law and history, its intellectual predecessors, international relations has developed a number of theories of the nature of the international and its constituent parts, which seek to explain, understand, judge and even predict international behaviour. These theories are heavily indebted to previously established traditions in political philosophy and social theory and the ways in which they conceive of the nature of the state and decision makers, history, social scientific explanation and the relationship between politics and morality.

Course description The course is designed to introduce students to the major theoretical and conceptual traditions of international relations as a way to make sense of the complex issues, developments and events constituting the international. The key objective of the course is to introduce students to the most significant orthodox and critical theoretical approaches within international relations. A critical assessment will be made of the principal propositions and arguments of the theories.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  70
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The final grade of the course is based upon two assessed essays, one is worth 35% of the mark (1500 words) and the other one 65% of the mark (2500 words).
Feedback The feedback of the coursework submitted for this class will concentrate on addressing the following question:

a. Does the assignment address the question set, and with sufficient focus?
b. Does the assignment show a grasp of the relevant concepts and knowledge?
c. Does the assignment demonstrate a logical and effective pattern of argument?
d. Does the assignment, if appropriate, support arguments with relevant, accurate and effective forms of evidence?
e. Does the assignment demonstrate reflexivity and critical thinking in relation to arguments and evidence?
f. Does the assignment demonstrate an autonomous research process resulting in an answer moving beyond the common expectations of the lecture?
g. Is the assignment adequately presented in terms of: correct referencing and quoting; spelling, grammar and style; layout and visual presentation?
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the major theories of International Relations and of the purpose of theory in improving our understanding of the workings of global affairs
  2. Reflect on the historical development of International Relations theory and the discipline of IR itself
  3. Critically engage with the concepts of each of the theories under discussion
  4. Compare, contrast and critically evaluate the key theories of International Relations
  5. Develop the necessary skills to write in an informed manner on International Relations theory
Reading List
Below is a list of textbooks which students might find especially useful throughout the course, especially (though not exclusively) to those who are new to IR theory. These can be used to complement all the required/further weekly readings.

Baylis, John, Smith, Steve and Owens, Patricia (eds). The Globalization of World Politics. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Booth, Ken and Erskine, Toni (eds.) International Relations Theory Today. London: Polity Press.

Burchill, Scott and Linklater, Andrew (eds.) 2013. Theories of International Relations. 5th ed. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dunne, Timothy, Kurki, Milja and Steve Smith (eds). 2016. International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Edkins, Jenny and Maja Zehfuss (eds). 2014. Global Politics. A New Introduction. London: Routledge.
(A textbook based on theoretical approaches but rather on key questions. Largely oriented toward critical theory).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Neal
Tel: (0131 6)50 4236
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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