International Political Theory

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Martin Bayly CBG.8.07


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


Students must have completed International Relations: Theories, Concepts and Debates (IR100).

Course content

This course offers an introduction to the history of international political theory (IPT). The course deals with debates and themes prompted by classical thinkers and considers their location within the existing IR canon including realism, liberalism, feminist, and postcolonial theory. The course also broadens this purview to consider how ‘classical’ international thought has been adopted, adapted, and critiqued by more recent thinkers, including those situated outside of the ‘west’. Students will be encouraged to consider how international thought sits within global intellectual history, the impact of world political events on IPT, and its enduring relevance. Topics covered will include sovereignty, the state, and war; international government, empire, and decolonization; gender, race, and class.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totaling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are required to write two 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

D. Armitage, Foundations of Modern International Thought; E. Keene, International Political Thought: A Historical Introduction; S. Burchill, Theories of International Relations; R. Shilliam, International Relations and Non-Western Thought; I. Kant, Kant’s Political Writings; E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis; B. K. Sarkar, The Futurism of Young Asia; R. Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 31.1
2:1 56.7
2:2 11.3
Third 0
Fail 0.8

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: 68

Average class size 2019/20: 12

Capped 2019/20: Yes (80)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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