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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 new 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 what Time magazine defined as a ‘decade from hell’ followed, leaving Europe in tatters, the United States in decline, and the balance of power rapidly shifting southwards towards the ‘rest’ and eastwards towards China. A very different kind of world now beckoned – more economically balanced and fair 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 according to many analysts. Indeed, many pundits now began to talk quite openly of a new world disorder with unresolved tensions in the Middle East, domestic stress in Europe, and new conflicts in Asia, making the international system an altogether less certain place. But how has this come about? Why have the major western powers proven so incapable of dealing with some of its more significant challenges? And where is the world heading? Just over ten years later and the same experts are predicting a very different kind of future. These are at least some 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 but who wishes to deepen his or her understanding of world issues.

Instruction will comprise regular lectures and daily 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. Guest lectures will also be given by Professor Barry Buzan and Professor Margot Light, Emeritus Professors at LSE.

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



Mark Beeson and Nick Bisley, Issues in 21st Century World Politics, Palgrave (2010).

Fareed Zakaria, Rivals: The Post-American World, Penguin (2009).

Bill Emmott, Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade, Penguin (2008).

Howard Davies, The Financial Crisis - Who is to blame?, Polity (2010).

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

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



Session: One

Dates: 20 June - 8 July 2016

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 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.