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IR201: Power Shift: The Decline of the West, The Rise of the BRICs and World Order in a New Asian Century


Course Content

At the beginning of the 21st century the world stood on the cusp of what most experts assumed would be a golden age of international peace and global prosperity guaranteed by American power and underwritten by an ever-expanding world market dominated by the West. But 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008 followed, leaving – or so many pundits insisted - the United States in decline, Europe in tatters, and the balance of power rapidly shifting southwards towards the ‘rest’ and eastwards towards Asia and China, or more generally towards the BRICS. A very different kind of world now beckoned – one more balanced and fair perhaps, according to Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, who coined the term BRICs to characterise the emerging order; but less under the control of the West.

Many pundits even began to talk of a new world disorder in the making. Certainly, with tensions increasing between Russia and the West, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, an apparently insoluble crisis in Europe, and new uncertainties arising from BREXIT in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, it did appear as if the international system was fast becoming a much less stable place. Some even wondered whether the liberal order itself was now under threat.

But how have all these major changes come about? What has been their impact on international affairs? And where is the world heading? These are at least three of the big questions we will be seeking to answer in this intensive three-week programme.

The course is designed with several different audiences in mind: undergraduate students looking for an expert guide through contemporary international issues; policy-makers at all levels seeking an in-depth survey of the main challenges facing the world today; those from any of the major social science disciplines who take the ‘global’ seriously; members of international organisations and NGOs; and anybody with a keen interest in international affairs who wishes to deepen his or her understanding of world issues.

Instruction will comprise daily lectures and seminars. There will be five lectures in week one, five lectures in week two, and two lectures in week three. There will be a revision day in the third week. Professor Michael Cox is joined by guest lectures from noted LSE experts, including Professor Margot Light, Dr Nicholas Kitchen, and Dr Luca Tardelli.

World-class LSE teaching 

With a vibrant research culture, the LSE Department of International Relations is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and remains a leading world centre for the development of the subject. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the most recent National Research Assessment Exercise when the International Relations and Government Departments, received one of the highest rankings.               

On this three week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE




Ian Bremmer, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World, Penguin (2013). 

Joseph Nye, Is the American Century Over?, Polity (2015).

Francois Bourguignon, The Globalisation of Inequality, Princeton University Press (2015).

J. Baylis, S. Smith & P. Owens (eds), The Globalisation of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 6th edition, OUP (2013).

A more detailed reading list is available. Subscribe to our mailing list to download. 

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice



Session: One

Dates: 19 June - 7 July 2017

Lecturer: Professor Michael Cox

Level: 200 level

Fees: Click here for information

Prerequisites: At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history, law or any other cognate subject in the Arts or Humanities

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One essay and one written examination

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US)
7.5 ECTS points (EU)

How to apply?

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*assessment is optional – see FAQs

**You will need to check with your home institution. Read more about credit transfer here.