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Unit information: Contemporary International Relations in 2021/22

Unit name Contemporary International Relations
Unit code POLI20002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Filippo Dionigi
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides students with a critical understanding of contemporary world politics. Drawing on a variety of approaches to the study of world politics, it introduces students to key concepts - including War, Peace, Security, Globalization and Justice - and related issues and debates. In doing so the unit will equip students with the conceptual tools with which to understand and interrogate the nature of contemporary world politics. It also assesses how different approaches to world politics address shared issues such as the causes of conflict, the nature of the contemporary world order, the impact of globalization on world politics and the prospects for international cooperation. The lectures and seminars give students the opportunity to assess the relationship between theories and practices of world politics, to engage the central themes of power and representation, and the question of 'who gets what, when and how' in world politics.


  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of key concepts in the study of world politics.
  • To provide a critical understanding of contemporary issues in world politics.
  • To provide a critical understanding of the relationships between theories of world politics and contemporary practices of world politics.
  • To explore major theoretical and empirical debates in contemporary world politics around the central themes of power and representation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

As can be evaluated via the unit assessment, by the end of this unit students will be able to:

a) Demonstrate an ability to critically analyze key concepts in the study of world politics.

b) Review, explain and discuss selected contemporary issues in world politics

c) Critically evaluate theoretical approaches to the study of world politics

d) Apply and evaluate theories and concepts in relation to contemporary issues in world politics

e) Develop independent arguments by synthesising a wide range of relevant information and evidence

f) Engage critically with key themes raised by the unit including: the relationship between power and representation in world politics; the role of the state as an actor in world politics; and the role of theories and concepts in comprehending the nature of contemporary world politics

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Presentation (25%) 3000 word essay (75%)

The assessments will evaluate all of the intended learning outcomes listed above.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. POLI20002).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.