Power Shift: The Decline of the West, The Rise of the BRICs and World Order in a New Asian Century

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR201
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

At the beginning of the 21st century the world stood on the cusp of what most experts assumed would be a golden age of international peace and global prosperity guaranteed by American power and underwritten by an ever-expanding world market dominated by the West.

But 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008 followed, leaving – or so many pundits insisted - the United States in decline, Europe in tatters, and the balance of power rapidly shifting southwards towards the ‘rest’ and eastwards towards Asia and China, or more generally towards the BRICS. A very different kind of world now beckoned – one more balanced and fair perhaps, according to Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, who coined the term BRICs to characterise the emerging order; but less under the control of the West.

Many pundits even began to talk of a new world disorder in the making. Certainly, with tensions increasing between Russia and the West, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, an apparently insoluble crisis in Europe, and new uncertainties arising from BREXIT in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, it did appear as if the international system was fast becoming a much less stable place. Some even wondered whether the liberal order itself was now under threat.

But how have all these major changes come about? What has been their impact on international affairs? And where is the world heading? These are at least three of the big questions we will be seeking to answer in this intensive three-week programme.

Session: Two
Dates: 13 July - 31 July 2020
Lecturer: Professor Michael Cox and Dr Luca Tardelli


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 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


At least one introductory course in either social science (e.g. political science, international relations, sociology, economics), history, law or any other cognate subject in the Arts or Humanities.

Programme structure

  • Global War and the Crisis of the 20th Century
  • Revolution in the making of the 20th Century: the rise and fall of the USSR
  • The New American Empire: from Clinton to Trump
  • Europe: from superpower to global irrelevance?
  • Globalisation under threat? After the 2008 Crisis
  • The West under threat? Towards an Asian Century
  • The West under threat? Towards a BRIC world?
  • BRIC I: Will China rule the World?
  • BRIC II: India: An Emerging Superpower?
  • BRIC III: A New Cold War? Putin’s Russia and the West
  • Zone of Turmoil: The Middle East – From Arab Spring to the Rise of ISIS
  • The End of Power? Diffusion, Resistance, and a World Without Superpowers

Course outcomes

The course is designed to deepen the understanding of world issues, with several different audiences in mind: undergraduate students looking for an expert guide through contemporary international issues; policy-makers at all levels seeking an in-depth survey of the main challenges facing the world today; those from any of the major social science disciplines who take the ‘global’ seriously; members of international organisations and NGOs; and anybody with a keen interest in international affairs.


With a vibrant research culture, the LSE Department of International Relations is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and remains a leading world centre for the development of the subject. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission was ranked 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 International Relations 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 international relations faculty.

Reading materials

Ian Bremmer, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World, Penguin (2013). 

Joseph Nye, Is the American Century Over?, Polity (2015).

Francois Bourguignon, The Globalisation of Inequality, Princeton University Press (2015).

J. Baylis, S. Smith & P. Owens (eds), The Globalisation of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 6th edition, OUP (2013).

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

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