IR4A1      Half Unit
International Relations: Core Theories and Debates

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jennifer Jackson Preece CBG.7.05


This course is available on the MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in International Relations (Research). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

This course is a graduate-level introduction to the study of international relations. It has 5 objectives: (i) to enquire into the nature of international politics and the role of theory in advancing our understanding of it; (ii) to introduce students to the main contributions and debates in theories of international politics; (iii) to provide students with a range of concepts, ideas, and perspectives to enable them to widen and deepen their understanding and analysis of international politics; and (iv) to encourage critical, independent thought. At the end of the course students should be able to think, talk and write in an informed, precise and analytical manner about developments within the field of International Relations, past and present.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Michaelmas 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.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will write one 2,000-word memo for their seminar teachers.

Indicative reading

  • Anne Marie Slaughter. A New World Order. 2005
  • Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink. International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. 1998
  • Ayse Zarakol. After defeat: how the East learned to live with the West. 2011
  • James D. Fearon. Rationalist Explanations for War. 1995
  • Robert Axelrod and Robert O. Keohane. Achieving Cooperation under Anarchy: Strategies and Institutions. 1985
  • John J. Mearsheimer. The False Promise of International Institutions.
  • Grieco, J., Ikenberry, J. and Mastanduno, M. Introduction to International Relations: Enduring Questions and Contemporary Perspectives (Palgrave, 2014).


Essay (100%) in the LT.

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.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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