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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Theories of International Relations (PLIT08021)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryResearching and analysing international relations depends on theory and theoretical knowledge, whether we realise it or not. This course will introduce you to a rich diversity of theoretical frameworks for making sense of international politics. It will also engage theory as a transferable skill, something we never stop using to identify, analyse, and understand various international political phenomena.
Course description The course introduces students to the major theoretical traditions and conceptual frameworks used to make sense of international politics, including relations between states and interstate institutions as well as a range of global political processes. It shows how to use theory to make sense of the complex issues, developments, and events. The key objective of the course is to introduce students to the rich diversity of theoretical approaches - from orthodox to critical - within international relations and to offer them key analytical skills to compare and engage with theories and to use theories in their further research and studies. Students will become conversant with and able to critically assess the principal propositions and arguments about international relations found in theories such as realism, liberalism, constructivism, English School, Marxism, feminism, critical theory, poststructuralism, and postcolonialism. They will also gain an introduction to cutting edge areas of IR theory, which not only offer resources for decolonising knowledge of international politics but also help contextualise and assess the work of IR theory as a social and political vocation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017) AND Politics and International Relations 1B: The Global Dimension (PLIT08018)) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012)
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:  201
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 167 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Tutorial participation 10%
1 x 1600 word literature review essay 40% due mid-semester
1 x 2000 word case study essay 50% due end of semester
Feedback Students will receive feedback on the literature review essay before the case study essay is submitted. Assessments will be marked according to the University's Common Marking Scheme. Students will receive their returned essays with a standardised marksheet that will contain marks, comments, and advice for further improvement. The course builds in study skills that give guidance on how to approach and succeed in the assessments, using examples drawn from the literature.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key theories of international relations.
  2. Exhibit a strong understanding of competing analytical and conceptual approaches to understanding international relations.
  3. Summarise and evaluate alternative explanations for particular developments and events in global politics.
  4. Use theory to identify, analyse, and understand various international political phenomena.
Reading List
Ken Booth and Toni Erskine, eds., International Relations Theory Today, 2nd edition (Polity)

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity (OUP)

Donald M. Snow, Cases in International Relations: Principles and Applications, 7th ed. (Rowman & Littlefield)

Jennifer Sterling-Folker, ed., Making Sense of International Relations Theory, 2nd edition (Lynne Rienner)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Enhance students' knowledge of the scope, defining features, and main areas of the IR theory, with specific knowledge of some theories.
Critically analyse, evaluate and/or synthesise ideas, concepts, and issues common to the study of international political events.
Use multiple theoretical approaches to formulate and critically evaluate research puzzles and evidence.
Distil and convey complex information combining abstract concepts and empirical evidence.
Enhance students' ability to work with others through constructive class discussion and debate.
Strengthen students' oral and written communication skills through written and oral assessment activities
Keywordsglobal politics,IR theory
Course organiserDr Stephen Hill
Tel: (0131 6)51 5362
Course secretaryMs Agata Lebiedzinska
Tel: (01316) 515197
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