module specification

GI4005 - Introduction to International Relations (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Introduction to International Relations
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   500-700 word learning reflection
Coursework 40%   1,500 word Essay
Coursework 40%   1,500 word Briefing Paper
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year (Spring and Summer) North Monday Morning
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

The broad aim is to develop an understanding of the fundamentals of the study of international relations. In particular to:

1. Analyse historical precedents and the institutions underlying contemporary international relations.
2. Understand the contemporary challenges facing the world and the institutional and political factors which hinder, or help provide, solutions to these problems.
3. Make informed judgements about current international affairs – and future developments – within the larger theoretical frameworks and approaches to international relations.


The syllabus will include: An introduction to International Relations and the Globalisation of World Politics; The Competing Paradigms of Realism, Liberalism and Marxism; The Evolution of International Society and the Westphalian System; International History 1900-1945; International History 1945 to the End of the Cold War; International and global security in the post-Cold War and 9/11 eras; International Political Economy; Trans-national Actors and International Organizations; Intergovernmental Politics; Nuclear Proliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction; Cultural Conflict in World Affairs; Terrorism; The Environment; Race; Poverty and Development; Gender; Human Rights; Humanitarian Aid; Genocide; and Human security. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4,LO5,LO6

A key element of the syllabus will be skills specific, supporting students in developing learning skills for life. This will include class taught skills and exercises using blended learning opportunities on the VLE. The applicability of these skills to enhancing employability will be explored. LO4,LO5,LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Teaching consists of a weekly two hour lecture followed by a one hour tutorial. Lectures will involve a combination of taught lectures, videos, skills workshops, and the use of primary and secondary documents and websites. During the module seminars will combine a variety of methods including discussion based on pre-set questions and role plays. Blended Learning will be a key component of the module, building on existing face-to-face contact time via a virtual environment, and offering additional resources for students to develop further their subject knowledge and skills. Lecture notes and primary and secondary documents for use in class will be posted on line, as will web links for academic and governmental websites, as well as video links. Lecture recordings will also be made available on line.

Materials for use in class will be posted at least one week in advance on line to allow students to reflect on the subject and prepare. Questions for class discussion will be available from the beginning of the module via the Module Booklet available on weblearn, which will include a list of resources students can use to answer the questions and study the subject in greater depth.

Skills development will form a central component of the module, including specific sessions on essay preparation and writing, complimenting skills workshops featured on other Level Four modules.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this module students will be better equipped to:

1. Identify key actors and processes in international relations, both historically and in the present day.
2. Gain an understanding of the basic theories of international relations, including Realism, Liberalism and Marxism.
3. Assess and take an informed overview of selected contemporary international developments, including critical analysis of international events, their causes, and the implications.
4. Communicate effectively in speech and writing (for example, writing an essay using commonly accepted standards of definition, analysis, grammatical prose, and documentation).
5. Use research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse arguments and exercise critical judgement from a variety of resources.
6. Enhance the capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.

Assessment strategy

Three summative pieces of work are required for this module.

The first summative assessment will be a written account of 500-700 words reflecting on learning. It is due in week 7. Students will consider their experience on their course, the feedback they have received in their modules, and their own reflection on formative feedback.

The second summative assessment will be an essay, 1,500 words long due in week 15. The essay will provide students with the opportunity to submit a major piece of work of their choosing on a key topic covered in the first half of the module. This will enable students to build on the formative writing exercise and to develop further many of the employability skills introduced during the module, reflecting on what they have learnt and making use of constructive feedback.

The third summative assessment will be a detailed briefing paper on a key issue covered in the second half of the module, such as terrorism, climate change, or poverty. Students will be expected to consider solutions to the issue they choose, presenting the arguments for and against, and recommending a course of action. The paper will be 1,500 words long. This will enable students to build on the summative writing and presentation exercises and will develop further many of the employability skills introduced during the module, in particular the ability to present information in a concise, well-balanced and constructive manner, drawing considered conclusions which lead to a policy recommendation. Students will also be encouraged to reflect on what they have learnt and make use of the constructive feedback they have received.

There will be two formative pieces of work.

The first will be in week 4 and will take the form of a class room exercise which will be commented on by the module tutor.

The second will be a group presentation on a contemporary issue, which will be peer reviewed in class, and will be completed by students during the second half of the module. This will enable students to reflect on their understanding of the subject matter to date in order to put in place learning strategies for the remainder of the module. This will encourage the development of a variety of employability skills including: research involving information retrieval from a variety of resources; analysing and advocating solutions to problems; developing a reasoned argument; exercising critical judgement; and collaborating with others towards a common goal.


Core Reading:

Baylis, J., Smith, Smith, S. & Owens, P. (ed.s), (2017) The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 7th Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
Haynes, Jeffrey, et al., (2017) World Politics, 2nd ed., Harlow: Pearson.

Additional Reading:

Beeson, M., and Bisley, N., (eds.), (2017) Issues in 21st Century World Politics, 3rd ed., Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Daddow, O. (2013), International Relations Theory, 2nd ed., London: Sage.
Devetak, R, et al., eds., (2012), An Introduction to International Relations, 2nd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dunne, T., et al. (2016) International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Hough, P., Malik, S., Moran, A. & Pilbeam, B. (2015), International Security Studies, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, e-book.
Jackson, R. & Sorensen, G., (2013), Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, 5th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lundestad, G., ed., (2013), International Relations since the end of the Cold War: New and Old Dimensions, Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Steans, J., et al., (2010), An Introduction to International Relations Theory: Perspectives and Themes, 3rd ed., Harlow: Pearson Longman.
Weber. C., (2010), International Relations Theory: A Critical Introduction, 3rd ed., London: Routledge.

On-line resources include: Foreign Policy; Foreign Affairs; The Washington Quarterly; the Journal of International Affairs; and Survival.

Other indicative websites include:
The United Nations at
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development at
The World Bank at
The World Trade Organization at
The Group of 77 at
The Economist at
The International Institute of Strategic Studies at
The Peace Research Institute of Oslo at
The International Atomic Energy Agency at
Chatham House at
The Council on Foreign Relations at

Students will also be encouraged to follow key individuals and organisations on social media platforms, such as Twitter.

Where possible, the most current version of reading materials will be used during the delivery of this module. Comprehensive reading lists will be provided to students in their handbooks. Reading Lists will be updated annually. Weblinks will also be updated regularly.