Great Thinkers and Pivotal Leaders: Shaping the Global Order

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR100
  • Starting 2022
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

The departure of the UK from the EU and political debates surrounding the election of important leaders including Trump in the US are important reminders of the role ideas and political leaders have in shaping the global order. Social media, globalisation, and populism are all having a significant impact on the stability of the international world system and the leaders behind these movements play a critical role in defining their impact on international politics.

This course places these changes in a broader historical context, examining the evolution of the global order across the last several centuries. Focusing on some of the world's most influential thinkers and leaders from Smith to Keynes; from Elizabeth I to Gandhi, you will examine how historically important ideas ascended, the leaders that defined these orders, and the interaction between the two.

Considering both the impact on international security and international political economy, you will be asked to grapple with important questions such as: What role do ideas play in international relations and do circumstances determine which ideas and which leaders come to the fore? As a result, by the end of the course you will have developed the capacity to analyse international relations generally and gain a deeper knowledge of several of the canonical cases that continue to influence the study and practice of international politics today.

Session: Three 
Dates: 1 August - 19 August 2022
Lecturer: Dr James Morrison


Programme details

Key topics

  • John Locke and the Fiscal-Military State

  • Adam Smith’s influence on the American Revolutionary War

  • Napoleon’s ‘Armed Doctrine’

  • The Economist and the Apogee of Free Trade

  • Marx in the Russian Revolution

  • The Interwar Collapse and the Rise of John Maynard Keynes

  • Decolonisation: Gandhi versus Churchill

  • The Anglo-American Postwar System: Keynes versus White

  • George Kennan’s Cold War

  • Raúl Prebisch and Import Substitution Industrialisation

  • Milton Friedman, ‘The Chicago Boys’, and Export Oriented Industrialisation

  • Condoleezza Rice’s National Security Strategy

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 but may be required for credit by your home institution. Your home institution will be able to advise how you can meet their credit requirements.

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


There are no prerequisites for this course. Students, however, should appreciate that the course will challenge them to engage a variety of materials across a range of substantive issue areas. 

Programme structure and assessment

This course is delivered as a combination of lectures, class discussions, group work and readings. Due to the highly discursive and topical nature of the course, students are expected to engage with the material so that they can participate fully in class discussion.

The course is assessed through a 1,500 word essay (50%) and a final examination (50%) Students will be asked to submit an essay plan during the course for feedback and will also be asked to prepare a presentation in class on an agreed topic. Both the essay plan and presentation are designed to test students' understanding of the content and will not contribute to the final grade.

Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Course outcomes

  • Understand the most significant shifts in international relations across the last several centuries

  • Interpret the relationship between ideas and political leaders and their impact on the international world order

  • Analyse the intellectual and political figures who are reputed to have shaped the global system

  • Develop a well-articulated and defensible view about the relationship between ideas and policy in international relations


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

Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Bk IV, Ch 2; and Selection on Free Trade.

Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto HX276 M39

Gandhi, Mohandas K. Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule. [1909] Read all but Chs 2-3, 9, 15, and appendices.

Churchill, Winston. “Our Duty in India.” Speech given at Albert Hall, March 18, 1931.

*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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