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Corpus II, Core Course: Areas and Policies


Admission requirements

Compulsory course for all MA International Studies Students.

Students must have at least a basic understanding of International Relations. Applicants should:

  • read the suggested literature on the MAIS website.

  • attend the Introduction to International Relations theory workshop run by MAIS staff before the start of the semester.


The rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) and the emergence of the G20 have recently been juxtaposed with financial crises in the US and the EU to suggest that the poles of international power are shifting. As a result of this shift, policy-makers are increasingly required to consider issues in contemporary international relations from a variety of ‘non-Western’ cultural standpoints. However, the academic field of International Relations (IR) has traditionally been orientated around Western ideas and frameworks that merely incorporate the ‘non-West’ as case studies, leaving policy-makers devoid of the conceptual tools necessary to address global problems today. This second core course seeks to challenge this ‘Western bias’ in IR by critically exploring a range of contemporary issues across a number of areas or regions from the vantage point of ‘non-Western’ theoretical positions. In so doing, this core course challenges students to cultivate a truly international mindset that is culturally aware and can generate more effective policy in the future.

The course begins by addressing the key assumptions made by traditional approaches to international relations and how to reconsider and challenge these assumptions. Students then critically explore alternative approaches to international relations from across the globe. These approaches are then applied to a series of core issues in the study of the global political economy, such as: international migration, the political economy of global financial crises, genocide, failed states, and regional powers. The course requires students to continually ask what humans (can) do to change their worldview and to perceive issues from a myriad of cultural standpoints. With this in mind students will critically evaluate policy responses to a specific issue from an alternative viewpoint to ensure cross-cultural comparability and critique. In this way, the core module encourages students to foster a critical and comparative approach in their study of international relations that is attentive to ‘non-Western’ ideas and frameworks.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of the development of ‘non-Western’ International Relations theory. Students will compare, contrast, critique, and apply a variety of different theoretical frameworks to understand key issues and policies in International Studies. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the complex issues and processes related to the development of ‘non-Western’ International Relations theory and International Studies.

  • Apply complex conceptual tools to analyze key events in and processes related to International Studies.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts and approaches on International Relations theory and International Studies, and lead class discussions.



Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar.

Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes

  • 120 Hours of reading and class preparation (10 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 36 Hours to prepare for the presentations

  • 60 Hours to complete the critical review element

  • 40 Hours to complete the research essay

Assessment method

Final grades for this module will be based on:

  • Participation element: Incl. attendance, participation and completion of weekly assignments and presentation: 30%

  • Analytical element: Critical Review: 30%

  • Research element: Research Essay: 40%

The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (powerpoints, useful websites, etc.) will also be found on Blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

B. Buzan and A. Acharya Eds. 2010, Non-Western International Relations Theory – Perspectives on and Beyond Asia, Abingdon and New York: Routledge.


Students can sign up to the class via uSis.


Dr. L.O. Black