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Unit information: New Developments in International Relations Theory in 2021/22

Unit name New Developments in International Relations Theory
Unit code POLI20016
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Joseph
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

The module develops students’ understanding of IR theory and introduces contemporary developments in theoretical debate. It looks at how some of the main approaches like realism and constructivism have recently developed as well as introducing new ideas like queer theory and New Materialism. It also takes a more philosophical and sociological approach to IR – both in terms of relating the discipline to the wider social sciences and in terms of looking at a wider range of social phenomena. The aim of the module is to challenge traditional understandings of IR. This better reflects the disciplinary practice of IR in the UK and in Bristol in particular.


- Broaden understanding of theories of IR - Introduce the latest IR approaches - Look at these in wider context of social sciences - Challenge traditional understandings of the discipline

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

1) Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse key theories in the study of international relations.

2) Critically evaluate new theoretical approaches to the study of world politics

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

4) Engage critically with key themes raised by the unit

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

1,500 word essay (25%)

2,500 word essay (75%)

Both essays test all learning outcomes


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. POLI20016).

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.