module specification

GI4005S - 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 Briefing Paper
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring 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 explore key issues in contemporary International Relations, such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the clash of cultures, poverty, human rights, the role of gender and race, and the environment.  At the end of the module students should be able to make informed judgements about current international affairs.

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: Nuclear Proliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction; Cultural Conflict in World Affairs; Terrorism; The Environment in International Relations; Poverty; Gender and Sexuality in International Relations; Race; Genocide; Human Rights; Humanitarian Aid; Democratization; and Human Security.

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 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.  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 how to write a briefing paper, complimenting skills workshops featured on other Level Four modules provided by PIR.

One activity week will also form part of the syllabus, allowing additional 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.
  • 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

One formative piece of work is required for this module. This will be a group presentation on a contemporary issue, which will be peer-reviewed in class, and will be completed by all students. 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. It will also 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. 

The summative assessment will be a detailed briefing paper on a key issue covered in 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 2,000 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.


Baylis, J., Smith, Smith, S. & Owens, P. (eds.), (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.