War, Power, and Morality: Political Theory and International Politics

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Government
  • Application code SS-IR130
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.

The course will provide both an introduction to political theory and to key approaches to international relations.

By examining the development of international political theory, from the Ancient Greeks to the present, this course will explore and criticise theories and arguments that have been offered to defend or challenge the power of political communities and explain the sources and varieties of conflict and cooperation that can occur within and beyond political communities. 

The course will examine the ideas of great political thinkers from Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes to Kant, Hegel and Marx as well as the use to which these arguments have been put in the world of politics and international relations by contemporary thinkers. These thinkers and the concepts they identify and use will provide us with a window into the structures that shape much international politics such as states’ rights and international humanitarian obligations; the nature and status of international law, and the prospects for global democracy and democratisation.

Session: One
Dates: 22 June – 10 July 2020
Lecturers: Professor Katrin Flikschuh and Professor Paul Kelly


Programme details



Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment

Programme structure

  • When is a terrorist attack an act of war? 
  • Is it the case that only states can exercise a right of war and if so why? 
  • Can you have a war on ‘terror’ or on ‘crime’? 
  • What is the fundamental difference between state violence and non-state violence? 
  • Where does state power come from and is the state system the ‘end of history’?

Course outcomes

The course will provide both an introduction to political theory and to key approaches to international relations.


LSE’s Department of Government is home to some of the most internationally respected experts in politics and government, producing influential research that has a global impact on policy. The Department has always been able to take advantage of its prominent position within the London School of Economics and Political Science, the largest and most important European institution specialising solely in the social sciences. The Department has a strongly cosmopolitan character and alumni can be found in the world's leading political science departments, as well as in journalism, commerce, central and local government, and non-governmental organisations globally.

The 2014 Research Assessment Exercise ranked the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs. LSE’s Department of Government ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s government faculty.

Reading materials

The main course readings can be found in:

C. Brown, T. Nardin and N. Rengger eds., International Relations in Political Thought, Cambridge University Press (2002). 

See also D. Boucher and P. Kelly eds., Political Thinkers: from Socrates to the Present, 2nd edition (2009).

Students should purchase both books. Additional reading and lecture notes will be available online on the course Moodle page.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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