Themes and Debates in Contemporary International Relations Theory

Module code: POPP 2004

Module description

This module enables students to explore the development of and current debates in international relations theory. The module begins by locating the value and nature of theory in international relations, considering what the purpose of theory is in the study of international relations.

It explores the role of key individual thinkers in establishing and challenging the development of 'paradigms' or broad perspectives in International Relations. In such a way, the influences of social sciences and humanities subjects are also identified in the growth of the subject called International Relations. The module then addresses the historical evolution of International Relations theory, starting with the realist and liberal schools before looking at the challenge of Marxist-influenced perspectives. With the end of the Cold War came a flourishing of international relations theory. Old theories had to adapt to the new environment, leading to neoclassical realism and liberal institutionalism. New theories drawing on poststructuralism, constructivism, feminism, Green theory, postcolonialism and sociological perspectives shed new light on the discipline.

Throughout the module there is an emphasis on developing students' analytical skills and on applying theory to practice in the real world.

Contact hours per student per year

  • Tutorials: 44 hours of small group workshops


  • Essay (1500 words): 25%
  • Critical reflection and  dialogue (500 words): 25%
  • Essay (2500 words): 50%

Additional costs: No extra costs other than purchase of books