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POL8069 : Studying International Relations: Key Analytical Challenge

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Hartmut Behr
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Simon Philpott
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To provide students with an advanced understanding of the evolution and current state of theory in international relations (IR).

-       To introduce the discipline of IR, its key themes and theories.

-       To explore the historical and contemporary themes of IR.

-       To discuss and critically evaluate the debates that have characterised the development of IR theory.

The module will explore the historic and contemporary themes of the discipline, and critically discuss these in the context of the ontological, epistemological and methodological claims raised by a range of theorists.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topic I: “Ideas Matter”
(1) Morality, Power, and Interest
(2) Norms and Perceptions
(3) History and Historiography

Topic II: “Politics is Mediated”
(4) Language and Power
(5) Images and Power

Topic III: “Politics and Context”: Ontologies of the International
(6) Epistemological Imperialism
(7) Western Centrism

Topic IV: “Ethics in IR”
(8) “Ethics of Evil”
(9) Difference and “Otherness”
(10) Ethics of Forgiveness

(11) Essay Writing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1123:00123:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities115:0055:00Annotated readings, non-synchronous
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00PiP
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods (Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities [PiP] as 2hrs small group seminars) seems best suited to accomplish the Learning Outcomes. Students will thus be prepared through intensive discussions, explanations, and Q&A for their assignments (4000 word essay).

In the seminars key terms, concepts, and texts in the study of international political thought will be introduced and discussed. Additional feedback, guidance, and consultation hours with the module provide additional spaces for the discussion of individual questions in relation to the topics and the assignment.

Structured, guided learning activities in form of annotated readings guide students through the main readings and main questions to be asked. Students can also learn from relating respective texts intertextually and thereby create relations and meaning between respective texts and discourses to accomplish a synoptic understanding of the module’s thematic. In addition, the syllabus schedules a separate session on Essay Writing to teach students the essentials of the main assignment, including transparency about their assessment criteria.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A1004000 word research paper
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal2MNon-assessed paper proposal of 1 - 11/2 pages, with references and outline of the paper structure
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assignment is a 4000-word research paper that can be on one question out of eight questions listed in the module guide; alternatively, these questions can be used for inspiration to develop own research questions. In any case, there is a formative (non-marked) assessment in form of an essay proposal to discuss and give feedback on the essay prior to submission. These questions relate to the main readings and seminar topics as listed in the Syllabus. Each set question connects to one text in the context of a general IR theme, thus that the essay discussion is not only on one text, but asks for intertextuality or synoptic views on the discipline. The essay is of theoretical nature, i.e., implies a conceptual discussion with empirical examples as illustrations of the conceptual argument only (i.e., not including e.g. a case study). Such an essay corresponds best to the nature of purpose of theories in an of International Relations and the discussion of approaches to the analysis of international relations as it corresponds to the manner in which IR theory discussions proceed themselves, e.g. in disciplinary journals.

Reading Lists