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

Postgraduate Course: The Politics of Knowledge in International Relations (PGSP11570)

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 production, diffusion and contestation of knowledge and expertise are important processes affecting the practice and study of international politics. This course aims to introduce students to knowledge as a vantage point for IR and encourages a reflection on the process of knowledge-making and the relationship between knowledge and politics.

The course looks at different types of actors engaged in expertise production, such as think-tanks and advocacy groups. It casts a critical eye on the discipline of IR and scholarly practices of knowledge-making. It introduces students to the processes through which knowledge is co-produced by researchers and policymakers.

Course description What is the role of knowledge in international relations?
This course considers the processes of knowledge making, legitimisation and use for academic and policy purposes. It also maps, in a detailed yet accessible way, the field of knowledge studies in international politics.

The course has two components. The first focuses on expert knowledge in international politics with special reference to the processes and actors involved in its production. This component introduces the concept of epistemic communities and communities of practice and looks at concrete examples of expertise production and the role of knowledge in specific policy areas, such as: security, conflict, peacebuilding and development.

The second component considers the production of knowledge within the discipline of IR. This part introduces critical perspectives on the discipline of IR and discusses approaches IR scholars take to their role as knowledge-makers. In particular, we will discuss the process of crafting specific fields and objects of study, the politics and practice of academic freedom and the policy- and political relevance of IR knowledge.

The broad theme connecting all sessions on the course is the contested relationship between knowledge and politics.

Student learning experience: The course will be delivered using a lecture plus seminar format. Seminars will give room for student presentations, debates, group and individual work. Each week, one team of students will take the lead in inspiring and leading a seminar discussion. The aim of this task is to practice debate leadership and teamwork skills while stimulating productive and critical discussion among peers.
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the processes and actors involved in knowledge and expertise production in international politics
  2. Work independently, as well as collaboratively in a group setting, to evaluate different channels and forms of knowledge exchange between academia and the policy world.
  3. Apply advanced critical analysis to knowledge-production practices exercised across a wide range of institutional settings (academia, think-tanks, advocacy groups).
  4. Identify and conceptualise approaches to, uses and abuses of knowledge in specific policy areas, such as conflict, peacebuilding, migration and development.
  5. Communicate in both presentations and discussion, an advanced understanding of key ideas within the scholarly analysis of knowledge production.
Reading List
Academic literature:
- Sending, O. J. (2015). The politics of expertise: competing for authority in global governance. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.
- Berling, T. V. and C. Bueger (2015). Security expertise: practice, power, responsibility, Routledge.
- Drezner, D. W. (2017). The ideas industry, Oxford University Press.
- Leander, A. and O. Waever (2018). Assembling Exclusive Expertise: Knowledge, Ignorance and Conflict Resolution in the Global South, Routledge.*
- Stampnitzky, L. (2013). Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented 'Terrorism', Cambridge University Press.*
- Amoureux J. L., B. J. Steele (eds.), Reflexivity and International Relations: Positionality, critique, and practice, London, UK: Routledge, 2016
- Vitalis R., (2015), White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations, Ithaca, Cornell University Press
- Boswell, C. (2009). The political uses of expert knowledge: Immigration policy and social research, Cambridge University Press.*
- Gross M. and L. McGoey, (2015), Routledge international handbook of ignorance studies., Routledge*

[Publications marked with '*'are (co-)authored/edited by women.]
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will be encouraged to develop their critical analysis and problem-solving skills. They will practice building strong arguments, questioning and responding to the ideas of others. The course will provide students with the opportunity to practice negotiation skills, consensus building and solution finding in a team environment
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Katarzyna Kaczmarska
Tel: (0131 6)51 1740
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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