Not available in 2020/21
The International Politics of Culture and Religion

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Katerina Dalacoura CBG.9.14


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in Human Rights, MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in International Relations Theory and MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.


Background in International Relations or a related discipline.

Course content

The overall objective of the course will be to explore the role of culture and religion in the discipline of IR from both a theoretical and an empiricalperspective, using Islam as a major case study. The first part of the course will place culture and religion within the broader context of global history,global modernity and social science. In its second part, the course will concentrate on the role of culture and religion in a number of international relations theories, such as constructivism, the English School, cosmopolitanism and communitarianism, historical sociology, post-colonialism and feminism. The third part of the course will examine the role that cultural and religious issues play in the practice of international relations and in particular their influence on international norms, foreign policy, conflict and war and theories of the state.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 2 essays in the LT.

Formative essays 2,000 words.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be available online and in printed form well before the first lecture/seminar. 

W.C. Smith (1991) The Meaning and End of Religion (Fortress Press).

Monica Toft (2013) ‘Religion and International Relations Theory’, in: Risse, Thomas, Walter

Carlsnaes, and Beth A Simmons. Handbook of International Relations, edited by Thomas Risse, et al. (SAGE Publications)

Christian Reus-Smit (2018) On Cultural Diversity (Cambridge University Press)

Brenda Shaffer, ed. (2006) The Limits of Culture: Islam and Foreign Policy (MIT Press)

Ashis Nandy (1988) The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism (Oxford University Press)


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.

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: 14

Average class size 2019/20: 14

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information