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Unit information: Theories of International Relations in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Theories of International Relations
Unit code POLI10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Alix Dietzel
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

The unit provides an introduction into the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the discipline of International Relations. It covers highly influential texts and authors, broader theoretical traditions and empirical cases to demonstrate the intrinsic connections between theory, concepts and empirical examples. It traces the main theoretical influences and positions that have driven various stages of the discipline in relation to central historical and political developments. As such it provides the theoretical background that students require to successfully progress through their degree.

The unit specifically aims to:

  • introduce students to key theoretical and conceptual debates in International Relations
  • familiarise students with core authors and texts in International Relations in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • demonstrate the mutual relationship between the development of theoretical approaches and historical circumstances in international politics

Your learning on this unit

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

• Demonstrate an understanding of the major themes, concepts and debates in the discipline of International Relations.
• Be able to critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each theoretical approach.
• Demonstrate a critical understanding of the philosophical and practical issues that underpin the study and practice of International Relations.
• Demonstrate an ability to evaluate advanced concepts and theories in reasoned and effective arguments in written form,
• Show an ability to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement in the selection of sources.

How you will learn

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

How you will be assessed

1500 word essay (25%)

2000 word essay (75%)

The assessments will assess 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. POLI10003).

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.