module specification

GI4005A - Introduction to International Relations (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to International Relations
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   2,000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the study of International Relations as an academic discipline. It identifies the key actors in international relations and examines how these have changed or been threatened by the forces of globalisation. It also considers the historical context of international relations in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries and demonstrates the challenges that globalisation poses to the structures and processes of world politics. In particular, students will be introduced to some of the most important theories used in the study of international relations, and examine the development of the Westphalian system,  the international political economy, and the role of transnational actors and international institutions. At the end of the module students should be able to make informed judgements about the evolution of international relations, current international affairs, and possible future developments.

Module aims

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

  • Analyse historical precedents and the institutions underlying contemporary international relations.
  • Understand the contemporary challenges facing the world and the institutional and political factors which hinder, or help provide, solutions to these problems.
  • 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 ofInternational 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;  and Intergovernmental Politics.

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.

Learning and teaching

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 further develop 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.  Some recorded material by the module convenor may 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 provided by PIR.

Two activity weeks will also form part of the syllabus, allowing further skills development and subject-specific study.

The transferable employability skills students should have developed include:

  • The ability to communicate effectively in speech (the ability to work under pressure in seminars, where students must demonstrate the ability to respond to questions orally) and writing (for example, writing an essay using commonly accepted standards of definition, analysis, grammatical prose, and documentation).
  • Research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse arguments, to read and understand texts on international relations, and to exercise critical judgement.
  • The capacity to work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management, as well as co-operating with other students to achieve common goals.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Identify key actors and processes in international relations, both historically and in the present day.
  • Gain an understanding of the basic theories of international relations, including Realism, Liberalism and Marxism.
  • Assess and take an informed overview of selected contemporary international developments, including critical analysis of international events, their causes, and the implications.
  • Communicate effectively in speech and writing (for example, writing an essay using commonly accepted standards of definition, analysis, grammatical prose, and documentation).
  • Use research skills, including the ability to synthesise and analyse arguments and exercise critical judgement from a variety of resources.
  • 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

The formative piece will be a short paper, up to 500 words long, which will summarise a key issue in international affairs. It will be completed in week 7 of the module. This will be commented on by the module tutor in order to identify key strengths and areas for improvements in writing skills (in relation to the written, summative assessment – see below) and subject awareness and understanding. The short paper will be submitted on line.

The summative assessment will be an essay, 2,000 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 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.


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. 
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, e-book.
Haynes, Jeffrey, et al., (2011) World Politics, Harlow: Pearson.
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, e-book.
Steans, J., et al., (2010), An International to International Relations Theory: Perspectives and Themes, 3rd ed., Harlow: Pearson Longman, e-book.
Weber. C., (2010), International Relations Theory: A Critical Introduction, 3rd ed., London: Routledge, e-book.

On-line resources include: Foreign Policy at www.; Foreign Affairs at; The Washington Quarterly at, the Journal of International Affairs at, and a growing selection of e-books.