International Political Theory

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof William Callahan CLM 5.07


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course consists of a two-part survey of international political theory. The first part deals with normative political theory. The focus is on debates provoked by classical thinkers such as Grotius, Hobbes, Kant and Marx. The second part of the course concerns contemporary IR theory. It explores the ways of explaining and understanding international relations associated with the major paradigms, such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism . Topics covered include war, peace, international law and order, international justice, intervention and non-intervention, sovereignty, diplomacy, revolution and counter-revolution, nationalism and national self-determination.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write three 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

A F Lang, Jr., International Political Theory; C 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.

A full course guide and reading list, will be available on Moodle at the beginning of the course. This will set 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 summer exam period.

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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 26.5
2:1 61.3
2:2 11
Third 0.6
Fail 0.6

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2017/18: 131

Average class size 2017/18: 15

Capped 2017/18: No

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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