Great Thinkers and Pivotal Leaders: Shaping the Global Order

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR100
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Open
  • 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.  

You can still register your interest in this course for 2021 using the ‘Sign up’ button to the right.  

From the vote for Brexit to the election of Trump, 2016 was a reminder of the importance of ideas and pivotal leaders in shaping the global order. 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; and beyond--the course explores the new ideas that ascended, the leaders that defined these orders, and the interaction between the two.

A number of important questions will be examined and addressed, including;

  • What role do ideas play in international relations?
  • To what extent can individual leaders shape the global order?
  • Do circumstances determine which ideas and which leaders come to the fore? Or do men and women make their own history?
  • What does this history reveal that might help us to shape international politics today and in the future? 

This course considers international order from the standpoint of both international security and international political economy. It presumes no experience in either field or the social sciences more generally. As such, it is ideal for students who want a rigorous introduction to international politics. It will also appeal to students who want to delve deeper into the history and evolution of the international system.

Session: Three
Dates: 3 - 21 August 2020
Lecturer: Dr James Morrison


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

The course is divided into six modules:

1. War Economies

  • John Locke and the birth of the Fiscal-Military State
  • Adam Smith’s influence on the American Revolutionary War

2. Revolutionaries

  • Napoleon’s ‘Armed Doctrine’
  • The Economist and the Apogee of Free Trade
  • Marx in the Russian Revolution

3. The World at War: Reordering International Politics

  • The Interwar Collapse and the Rise of John Maynard Keynes
  • Decolonisation: Gandhi versus Churchill

4. Cold Warriors

  • The Anglo-American Postwar System: Keynes versus White
  • George Kennan’s Cold War

5. Competing Development Models

  • Raúl Prebisch and Import Substitution Industrialisation
  • Milton Friedman, ‘The Chicago Boys’, and Export Oriented Industrialisation

6. Neoconservatives and the War on Terror

  • Condoleezza Rice’s National Security Strategy

While some familiarity with these figures and topics is valuable, the course assumes no prior expertise or training. Students, however, should appreciate that the course will challenge them to engage a variety of materials across a range of substantive issue areas--all of which is rich but much of which is challenging.

Course outcomes

  • An understanding of several of the most significant shifts in international relations across the last several centuries
  • Familiarity with those intellectuals and political figures who are reputed to have shaped these shifts
  • Their own 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.



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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