module specification

GI7007 - The Evolution of the Modern Inter-State System  (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title The Evolution of the Modern Inter-State System 
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 100
22.5 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
77.5 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 45%   Essay 2000 words
Coursework 55%   Regional Report, 2500 words
Running in 2021/22 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module aims to explore the complex and dramatic changes in the structure of the inter-state system that have taken place since the end of the 19th century. In the first section, it seeks to identify the principle factors that saw Europe retreat from global dominance, the USA rise to dominance and the Soviet Union surge and decline in power and influence. What were the dynamics that drove these fundamental developments and what was their wider impact on the structure of the inter-state system? The second section will focus on post-cold war developments. How should we conceptualise the structure of the inter-state system since the end of the cold war? Is it inherently unstable? How radical a challenge does the rise of new Asia powers present to the distribution of power within the global inter-state system?


Section 1: The Inter-State System in the 20th CenturyLO1

- European Great Powers and the Global System at the end of the 19th century LO1

- The new ‘great power’: the rise of a hegemonic USA LO2

- International Political Economy: the creation of the western system LO2

- The United Nations and the Rise of the Independent South LO2

- The Rise and Fall of the Soviet bloc LO2, LO3

Section 2: Emerging Regional Dynamics in the Posts-Cold War World  LO3

- Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

This module will be taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars. It will also exploit Weblearn to deliver materials (reading, seminar materials, video material, feedback) which can support seminar work and the independent learning of students.

Students will be required to present to and participate in seminar discussions and debates that will focus on both on conceptual debate and the examination of specific policy problems and initiatives. They will also make presentations.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module students will:

1. Gain an understanding of nature and extent of the transformation of the inter-state system since the end of the 19th century

2. Gain an understanding of the dynamics of change within the inter-state system and the rise of new powers and new structuring institutional relationships

3. Understand debates concerning the sources of stability and instability in the international system

Assessment strategy

 There will then be two forms of summative assessment on this module:

1. 2,000. Questions will relate to the themes of the first section of the module. This will constitute 45% of the overall assessment. Questions to be provided by tutor

2. 2,500 regional report. Students will have to choose region (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East) and assess the dynamics of contemporary inter-state relations. This assessment will be weighted at 55% of the overall assessment.



Adam Watson, The Evolution of International Society, re-issued 2009.  (ebook)
John Mearsheimer: The Tragedy of Great Power Politics’, Norton, 2014 edition.
Bryan Mabee, Understanding American Foreign Policy, 2013
Barry Eichengreen, Globalising Capital: A History of the international Monetary System, 2008
J. S. Nye, Is the American Century Over? 2017
L. Gordenker, The UN in International Politics, 2017


T. J. Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power, 2017
D. Schambaugh, China’s Future, 2016
Andrew Gamble, Crisis without end? The Unravelling of Western Prosperity, 2013
Edward Luttwak, The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy, 2012
Jae Ho Chung, Assessing China's Power, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

Foreign Affairs
British Journal of Politics and International Relations