Not available in 2021/22
IR487      Half Unit
Critical Theories of International Relations

This information is for the 2021/22 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.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 9

Average class size 2020/21: 9

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication