IR487      Half Unit
Critical Theories of International Relations

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tristen Naylor


This course is available on the MSc in International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course examines the ways that different theories conceive, analyse and critique the character of international relations. The purpose of the course is to provide a thorough interrogation of these theories, exploring debates both within and between them. Theoretical approaches to be considered include: Critical theory; post-colonialism; post-structuralism; race and empire, and gender and feminism. The course also interrogates issues relating to the philosophy of science and philosophy of history.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

In line with departmental policy, there will be a reading week in week 6 LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays in the LT.

Students are required to submit formative coursework (two 2,000-word essays) and to deliver at least one formal seminar presentation. All students are expected to prepare for and participate in seminar discussions.

Indicative reading

Chris Brown and Kirsten Ainley (2010) Understanding International Relations, 4th Ed. (Palgrave Macmillan);

Patrick Jackson (2010), The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations, (London: Routledge);

Christian Reus-Smit and Duncan Snidal (eds, 2010), The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, (Oxford: Oxford University Press);

Scott Burchill et al (eds, 2009), Theories of International Relations, 4th ed. (London: Palgrave).


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

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: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication