International Political Theory

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Peter Wilson CLM 5.10


This course is compulsory on the BSc in International Relations and BSc in International Relations and History. This course is available on the BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This is the core subject for specialists in international relations. It consists of a survey, in two parts, of thinking about international relations, with emphasis on the political aspects. The first part deals with classical theory, the second with modern. Ways of explaining and understanding international relations from Vitoria, Grotius and Hobbes to the present day. The chief concerns are war, peace, international law and order, international justice, power, intervention and non-intervention, sovereignty, diplomacy, revolution and counter-revolution, nationalism and national self-determination, stability, change, human rights, international organisation.


10 hours of lectures and 8 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 4 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write four essays of a maximum length of 1,500 words each to be set and marked by class teachers. They are also expected to give at least one class presentation.

Indicative reading

Chris Brown, Understanding International Relations; H Bull, The Anarchical Society; E H Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis; I Clark, The Hierarchy of States; M Donelan, Elements of International Political Theory; F H Hinsley, Power and the Pursuit of Peace; M Wight, International Relations: The Three Traditions; K Hutchings, International Political Theory; C Brown, T Nardin & N Rengger, International Relations in Political Thought; H. Biddel, C. Sylvest & P. Wilson, Classics of International Relations.

At the first lecture a full reading list will be distributed setting out the structure and content of the course and providing detailed guidance on reading, sample examination questions, suggested essay titles, and topics for class discussion.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

The examination paper requires that four questions be answered out of twelve.

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 9.8
2:1 52.7
2:2 30.5
Third 4.3
Fail 2.7

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2012/13: 90

Average class size 2012/13: 11

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 75.3%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)