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icono de curso

International Relations Theory


Credits: 8 ECTS

First semester

Compulsory courses




The course has two objectives. Firstly, to provide students with sound knowledge of International Relations theory and its evolution, and help them apply the main theoretical approaches to the study and interpretation of the global order and current political processes within it. Secondly, to reflect on the fundamental questions and issues facing IR scholarship, and how various theories address them.

The course is divided into three parts. The first part (Lectures 1 and 2) contextualise International Relations as an academic discipline within the grander narrative of world history and politics. It explores how such a new field of study (less than 100 years old) has been able to explain so much human history. The second part (Lectures 3-11) explores the main competing theoretical perspectives on international relations, and how they have evolved in collaboration, or competition, with each other. The final part (classes 12-18) considers the main issues that preoccupy all IR scholarship, and shows how different theories address them.

Fortnightly seminar groups provide students with an opportunity to discuss the themes raised in the previous classes, as well as apply them to contemporary issues in international politics.


The overall grade for this course is calculated based on coursework completed during the semester (50%) and a two-hour exam (50%). Specifically:

  • The two-hour exam will require you to answer TWO questions in essay form, from a choice of no less than six.
  • The coursework grade is comprised of six separate grades. Students are required to complete three written assignments of 1000-1500 words set by the seminar teachers (four assignments are set and the highest three grades are taken). Each written assignment is worth 10% of the final course grade. All students participate in a two-hour simulation exercise, worth 20% of the final grade. This grade is comprised of (a) the preparation of a strategy paper (5%), (b) performance during the simulation exercise (10%), and (c) a self-evaluation and reflection on the simulation (5%).