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International Relations: Theory and Approaches



Purposes: 1. Students will deepen their understanding of international relations theories and approaches, examining the core debates that define the field, and learn how to apply these theories to contemporary global politics. 2. Students will be given the opportunity to hone their research and presentation skills.

Content: This course deepens students’ understanding of the central theories and approaches to international relations as introduced in the first year of study. It examines a broad range of theories including realism, liberalism, constructivism, the English School, world-systems theory as well as post-modernism, feminism and new institutionalism. It also explores several substantive issues central to international politics. In particular, we look at global governance, the role of non-state actors in international politics, how “power” is conceptualized in IR scholarship, and the debate about positivist / post-positivist IR approaches. Theories and approaches will be explored with reference to real-world events in international politics. These include, for example, 9/11, the war on terror, global inequality, the Arab spring, the Euro-crisis, the rise of China, human rights, and EU integration.

Methods of Instruction

Seminar and presentation.


Approximately 1500 pages.


Presentations, review articles, and a final essay of ~ 4000 words.

Monday 10 September till 22 October, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A22 and
Wednesday 5 September till 24 October, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A37 (except 3 October: Leidens Ontzet, instead of that meeting: Thursday 4 October, 15.00-17.00 hrs in 1A37)