Module descriptions for International Relations and Politics

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Introduction to International Relations I: Perspectives
    This module provides an introduction to the theory and history of international relations. The module will give a broad overview of the discipline of international relations, engaging with the scope of study, key theories and concepts, and ground these in an historical overview of the international system since 1945.

    Introduction to Politics
    An investigation of the nature of political study and of politics through examination of political behaviour (processes of political socialisation, the nature of political culture and the ways in which individuals participate in a democratic society) and the role of ideas and ideologies in informing individual and collective behaviour.

    Introduction to International Relations II: Themes and Issues
    This module provides an introduction to the field of international relations by examining some of the key issues in contemporary world politics. After introducing core concepts and themes – for example, the idea and history of the international system of states and international society, transnational and global society, along with the concepts of conflict and co-operation among states and non-state actors – the module examines a number of immediate and chronic issues in world politics.

    Politics in Comparative Perspective
    This module examines and compares the nature of democratic politics, including governmental institutions and political processes, in a number of systems including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the USA and the European Union.

    Social Differences and Divisions
    This module is designed to provide students with an introductory knowledge of sociology and the different ways in which sociological analysis makes sense of the social world. Key concepts and approaches in sociology will be introduced through a focus on the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions. Core areas of sociological analysis, including gender relations, class divisions, and ‘race’ and ethnicity will be considered in light of contemporary sociological debates.

    Contemporary Societies: Structure and Change

    This module provides an overview of the key social transformations characterising the ‘modern world’ and the various ways in which these have been analysed. The module explores the origins and character of modernity through the development of industrial capitalism, the growth of rationality, the rise of the nation-state, and the separation of social life into public and private realms.

    Political Thought 1
    A historical and critical examination of political thought and international theory, beginning with Machiavelli and concluding with Bentham. Students will reflect on how historic theories of international and national politics are to be understood and assessed conceptually.

    Political Thought 2
    This develops from Political Thought 1, beginning with Kant and concluding with de Beauvoir. Specific theorists such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche and de Beauvoir will be examined and general themes such as gender, sovereignty and the end of history in relation to the politics of states and the international arena will be investigated.

    Researching Politics and International Relations I: Analytical Modes
    The aim of this module is to locate political science and international relations with reference to debates about the nature of social science, so that students may begin to make informed choices about their own modes of inquiry. Students will be introduced to debates about the nature of ‘the political’ (ontology), what we can know about it (epistemology) and how different modes of inquiry are derived from these debates.

    Researching Politics and International Relations II: Methods

    Introduces students to the ideas underpinning the design and conduct of research in politics and international relations, starting with the big questions of ‘what exists?’ and ‘how can we know about what exists?’ before moving to consider the practice and implications of different research methods.

    Contemporary Security Studies

    The topic of ‘security’ – what it is, how to achieve it, who should provide it, and even who and/or what should ‘be secured’ – is hotly contested by policy makers, the academic community, and members of civil society. This module examines some of the different ways that security and its objects of protection (whether these are the nation-state, the environment, the economy, a ‘way of life’, and/or the individual) have been conceptualised and the implications for peace and global conflict as well as for everyday forms of violence and exclusion.

    The Global Political Economy
    Examines the global economic order and the interaction of economics and politics in shaping world affairs. The module is divided into two parts. Part one offers a historical overview, and a range of theoretical tools through which to understand recent changes in the world economy. Part two looks at a number of substantive debates by discussing how politics and economics are entwined in the areas of production, finance, and trade.

    Global Governance and Civil Society
    The module examines the web of governance structures in a world no longer dominated by state actors. It explores the changing ‘architectures’ of statist governance and the variety of inter- and trans-societal, as well as global structures and processes.

    Understanding Europe: History, Culture and Political Economy
    This module explores what we mean by ‘Europe’ from the perspectives of current scholarship. It draws on a variety of disciplinary insights into the history, culture, political economy and boundaries of Europe in a period marked both by powerful integrative and disintegrative forces.

    Russia and East Europe after Lenin 

    Explores the attempt to build a radical alternative political, social and economic model in Europe during the 20th century. The module will be substantively concerned with questions of state-building, governance, security and legitimacy in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Taking a comparative approach to the region, students will consider the appropriateness of Western concepts for understanding the political system, particularly socialism, totalitarianism, pluralism and democracy.

    State and Society in Europe
    Offers an exploration into the social and political foundations of European states and societies. It looks at the processes of nation and state-building and the relationship between state, markets and society, consolidation of European models of capitalism and the construction of European concepts of citizenship.

    Development and Social Change in Latin America

    The module examines the political economy of Latin America from the 20th century onwards. It explores state and class formation, debates about development and democratisation in the region, focusing on the continent’s role within the global economy, the impact of the drugs trade and the role of non-governmental organisations and contemporary issues of power and resistance in relation to world order.

    American Politics and Society

    An analysis of the governmental and political institutions in the United States, the policy-making process, and contemporary issues in American politics.

    Modern British Politics

    An analysis of contemporary British politics and the wider movements contributing to the making of modern British politics, and an assessment and evaluation of political change in Britain within a global and historical context.

    State and Society in Contemporary Russia 
    Russia has been undergoing enormous political, economic and social transformation since the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War. The module will analyse the emergence of the contemporary political system in light of the historical, global and socio-economic context, exploring the nature of the state, the significance of political institutions and the applicability of western political science concepts such as liberal democracy.

    Poverty, Inequality and the Politics of Welfare
    This module offers an exploration into the past and future of the welfare states in advanced industrial economies. It looks at the theoretical approaches to welfare and the ways in which welfare can be analysed and categorised in political science.

    Political Sociology of Crime and Disorder 
    This module will explore contemporary issues in the politics and sociology of crime, disorder and control. This will include an overview of some of the key theories and theorists and current practices of crime and social order. The aim of the module is to provide students with an understanding of the key debates and issues in relation to crime and disorder, the sociological analysis and understanding of these issues and an opportunity to explore the politics of crime, disorder and social control.

    Theory and Practice of Human Rights 
    Offers students the opportunity to develop both a comprehensive understanding of theoretical debates on human rights and an awareness of the myriad practices, actors, institutions, and issues surrounding the concept of human rights, and from a broad range of perspectives.

    Conflict and Post-War Reconstruction 

    This module provides students with an overview of the dynamics of intrastate conflict, the dominant practices of conflict management and the reconstruction of post-conflict societies. The module will start with a brief overview of the causes of conflict and a conceptualisation of peace.

    Violence, Resistance and Identity Politics 

    This course probes the links between identity as a localised practice and globalised forms of domination, exclusion and violence. It explores a wide range of foundational and contemporary literature from international relations, feminist, postcolonial and poststructural theory to ask questions about the ways in which particular bodies are raced, classed, gendered and sexualized, and the personal/political implications of this.

    International Development
    This module examines both the theory and practice of the international politics of development. The first half of the module looks at key theoretical debates and how these have related to practice. Various contemporary issues in development are then explored to illustrate the theoretical debates.

    Counter Terrorism in Comparative Perspective
    This module aims to compare and contrast the shifting and different ways in which states respond to terrorism. It will conclude by considering how these various responses impact upon both human rights regimes and norms and citizenship rights, behaviours and practices.

    Freedom, Justice and Political Theory 

    An examination of key political concepts, freedom, justice, and the community, taking account of affiliated concepts including rights and equality. In considering these concepts, differing theoretical treatments of them will be related to the roles they play in the practical world of politics.

    South African Politics: From Apartheid to Democracy

    This module will provide students with a detailed examination of the political economy of South Africa. It begins with an analysis of the legacy of South Africa’s history before surveying some of the key issues in the political economy of post-apartheid South Africa. It assesses the links between the historical legacies of apartheid and the unique nature of some of the problems encountered in South Africa today.

    Global Environmental Politics
    This module is concerned with the global environmental issues in a broad, interdisciplinary framework. Beginning with an investigation into the international legal and institutional apparatus for dealing with environmental issues, it goes on to consider the wider socio-cultural and ideological aspects, as well as the global political economy of environmental governance and sustainable development.

    International Human Rights Law
    The module will introduce the history and philosophical foundations of human rights and international human rights law, the context of international human rights in international law more generally, and the universal and regional mechanisms for the protection of human rights at an international level.

    International Law and Institutions
    Focuses on the law and legal framework governing the international community. Examined in depth are the underpinnings of international law including the nature, origins and basis of international law, the sources of international law, including treaties and customary norms. Special focus is given to the nexus between international and municipal law, subjects of international law and the concept of territory/jurisdiction.

    Central Asia in Global Politics: Beyond Oil and Islam
    This module examines Central Asia’s domestic post-Soviet development within the context of its geostrategic importance to international actors. It will explore issues central to the region’s development including nation-building, conflict and revolution, political Islam, the political economy of oil, transnational organised crime and ‘great’ power play in the region.

    Dissertation in International Relations and Politics
    (Double Honours)
    This module provides the opportunity for independent research under supervision. Students choose a dissertation topic under advice from staff in the International Relations field.

    Postcolonial Perspectives on Western Culture and Politics
    This module sheds light on how Western culture and politics rely on the construction of particular narratives about people in the postcolonial world. The module will highlight the diffuse nature of what constitutes ‘oppression’, and will show how what we ‘think’ about other people matters for how we understand ourselves, as well as our own culture and politics.

    Independent Study in International Relations and Politics

    Offers students the opportunity to undertake independent study and research under supervision. Students can submit a proposal for independent study, and provided that supervision is available, an agreed programme of work and assessment schedule is constructed.