Not available in 2020/21
IR322      Half Unit
Sovereignty, Rights and Justice: Issues in International Political Theory

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Chris Brown 


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.

Course content

Combines insights and concepts from political theory and international relations theory, and focuses on modern debates on sovereignty, the rights of states, individuals and peoples, and international justice.

Sovereignty and the norm of non-intervention; the contemporary international human rights regime; the ethics of war and violence; the politics of humanitarian intervention; the politics of international criminal law and the ICC; global social justice. Further details will be provided at the start of the session.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

(10 x 2 hr seminars.)

Week 6 is a reading week, in line with departmental policy

Formative coursework

Students will write one formative essay (1,500 words) due end of week 6; they can use this to develop ideas for the summative essay but students will not be allowed to 'cut and paste' their formative work into the summative essay.  Students will produce a 2 page outline of the assessed essay in Week 10.  This will set out the research question, an overview of the argument, a draft structure and indicative reading list.  Students will receive approval of the research topic and feedback on the outline by the end of Week 11.

Indicative reading

A detailed list of references will be provided: Suitable introductions include : Chris  Brown, International Society, Global Polity: An Introduction to International Political Theory (2015) and Anthony Lang, International Political Theory (2014);


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Students will write an essay of 4,000 words on a topic approved by the course convener due in Week 1 of the LT.  Full details and guidance will be provided on Moodle and in the first seminar.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 34.8
2:1 45.7
2:2 17.4
Third 0
Fail 2.2

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: 20

Average class size 2019/20: 20

Capped 2019/20: Yes (18)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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