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This unit provides an introduction to the theories, issues and powers of the contemporary international system and surveys the academic and policy debates about these issues. It is intended for students who seek to expand their knowledge of the structures of the modern international system and the way it shapes many of the central issues in the world today. The unit is a graduate level survey course on contemporary issues and institutions in international affairs. The unit begins with an examination of the foundational aspects of the international system with a focus on how different theories of international relations explain the workings of the international system. We then move on to some key debates that provide us with further insights into the workings of the system, including debates on the ongoing ramifications of globalization and the spread of democracy. The unit then examines the distribution of power in contemporary international relations. Here it considers: the domestic foundations of America's international role; contemporary American foreign policy; the rise of China and its regional and global consequences; and the process of European integration. The unit concludes with an examination of a number of issues and cases, human rights and humanitarian intervention and the politics of nuclear proliferation.

Summary 2020

Unit name Politics of International Relations
Unit code HIR402
Credit points 25
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
School of Social Sciences
Discipline Politics and International Relations

Dr Matt Killingsworth

Teaching staff

Level Postgraduate
Available as student elective? No
Breadth Unit? No



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Teaching Pattern

Internal: 2 hour seminar weekly (13 weeks)

Distance: Web based delivery


Internal: Seminar presentation and report {500 words} (10%), 1500 word Event brief (25%), 6000 word major essay (65%)

Distance: Article critique 1500 words (20%), Theory Testing 1500 Words (20%), Event brief 1500 words (20%), Major essay 3500 words (40%)

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