PIR-20076 - Contemporary International Relations Theory
Coordinator: Barry J Ryan Tel: +44 1782 7 33354
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2019/20


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2019/20

This module provides students with a broad theoretical understanding of the main areas of study in International Relations (IR). It introduces students to the most influential ideas and writings in the field of IR. Through the in-depth analysis of leading scholars it analyses the methods that underpin contemporary interpretations of international relations. It enables students themselves to critique the various theoretical approaches involved with researching and writing about international relations. Throughout the module, there is a strong emphasis on applying the concepts and problems of IR theory to contemporary events. The 15 one-hour lectures explain the various approaches to interpreting IR. The 7 one-hour meetings of each tutorial group compare how particular themes in international relations are addressed by authors from different schools of thought, employing small-group work and plenary discussion amongst the whole class.

1. By focussing on the application of theory to particular themes in the study of International Relations, to give students the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical problems that have shaped the development of international political theory.
2. To reinforce students' understanding of the "traditional" perspectives on International Relations and introduce students to contemporary theoretical approaches to the study of IR.
3. To equip students with a solid theoretical foundation relevant to the other modules offered at Level 2 and for further study in the discipline of International Relations.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

interpret and distinguish between the different theoretical perspectives in the discipline of International Relations: 2
analyse, interpret and critically evaluate the treatment by different authors of a range of themes in International Relations: 2
evaluate and apply abstract theories in analysing and solving problems related to contemporary developments in international affairs: 2
effectively and fluently communicate complex arguments supported by appropriate evidence in written form: 2
analyse key themes in the academic study of International Relations, integrating theoretical concepts and empirical material: 1,2

Study hours

Lecture attendance - 15 hours
Tutorial attendance - 7 hours
Tutorial preparation - 28 hours
Review essay research and writing - 40 hours
Essay research and writing - 58 hours
Exam - 2 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Exam weighted 60%
2 hour unseen written exam with two questions to be answered from a list of six.
This examination will consist of six questions with two to be answered. The questions will test the student's knowledge of the theories covered during the module and will compel the student to compare and contrast different approaches to the study of international relations.

2: Essay weighted 40%
1500-word essay on a theoretical paradigm
An assignment to discuss and explore the theory being taught, in which the student summarises and evaluates a theory by responding to one of a number of questions which will be provided by the module leader. The student will outline the main tenets of the paradigm, contextualise it in relation to other theories of IR, show knowledge its main proponents and demonstrate an understanding of its epistemological roots by incorporating readings on the module guide. This is submitted in the middle of the teaching period.