School of Politics and International Relations

POL251 International Relations Theory

(POL240A – Autumn, POL240B – Spring)

Level: 5

Credits: 30 credits

Semester: A & B

Contact: TBC

Overlap: None

Prerequisite: POL100 or POL110 & POL106

Compulsory for: L240, L24Y, L250, L25Y

Associate Availability: Full Year, Spring and Autumn


This module focuses on some of the key theories, issues and themes in the study and practice of contemporary international relations. It takes as its starting point the distinct political characteristics of the social space of the "international'' defined by the absence of common political power and the political and economic changes associated with the end of the Cold War and globalisation. The first semester is mostly concerned with exploring theories of international relations, from realism and liberalism to historical materialism and post colonialism. The module then proceeds to identify and examine key issues of concern within contemporary world politics including the changing nature of state sovereignty, war and violence, global governance and international organisations, the nature of the world economy, and human rights. Through the study of these issues the module aims to equip students with the conceptual tools and empirical knowledge to enable them to acquire a deeper and more nuanced understanding of contemporary international relations.  This module is compulsory for single honours International Relations students.


Assessment: 1 x 1000 word Critical Review (10%), 1 x 2500 word Essay (30%), 1 x 1500 word Critical Review (20%), 1 x 3000 word Essay (40%)