Skip to main content

Study information

International Relations: Power and Institutions

Module titleInternational Relations: Power and Institutions
Module codePOLM502
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Henry Jarrett ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module provides an advanced entry-level introduction to the key debates in the contemporary study of International Relations (IR). The module is designed to introduce students to the broad conceptual, historical, methodological and disciplinary themes that shape the study of IR by exploring them in the context of key contemporary challenges in global politics. The module locates core texts, ideas and theories, illuminating how academic ideas and social practices are shaped by and shape world affairs.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The main aim of the module is to illuminate why the main concepts and theories in International Relations take the form that they do by examining key contemporary challenges in global politics. It will subsequently to be possible for students to reflect critically on their own theoretical assumptions and how they shape claims about the future of world politics.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate substantive knowledge of modern IR, the origins of the field, the context in which it developed, and the major critical positions adopted towards its development;
  • 2. Identify and discuss the key methodological, conceptual and theoretical debates in IR and demonstrate knowledge in relation to the development of IR as a field of knowledge-production;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Demonstrate advanced critical, historical and analytical understanding of the development of IR as a field of academic knowledge-production;
  • 4. Exercise informed judgement concerning the practical implications of abstract political principles and ability to locate arguments within an historical context and to understand the relationship between context and theory;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Conduct independent research, give well-designed presentations, exercise critical judgment, write cogently and persuasively; and
  • 6. Identify spurious conclusions and distinguish rigorous from merely persuasive argument.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Theories of global politics
  • International order and the nature of power
  • Power and international institutions
  • Global conflict and cooperation
  • Legacies of colonialism
  • (Re)Emerging powers
  • Social justice and gender in world politics
  • The environment and climate change

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hours11 x 2 hour per week Seminars: Small group work, presentations, discussion, reflection
Guided independent study200 hoursReading for and writing essays
Guided independent study78 hoursReading for seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case analysis plan250 words1, 2, 5, 6Verbal
Essay plan250 words1, 2, 5, 6Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case analysis402,000 words1-6Written
Essay602,500 words1-6Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Case analysis (2,000 words)Case analysis (2,000 words)1-6Referral/Deferral period
Essay (2,500 words)Essay (2,500 words)1-6Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Chris Brown, Understanding International Relations. 5th ed (London: Red Globe Press, 2019).

Barry Buzan and Richard Little, International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Richard Devetak and Jacqui True, Theories of International Relations. 6th ed (London: Red Globe Press, 2022).

Timothy Dunne, Milja Kurki, Katarina Kusic and Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. 6th ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024).

David Long and Brian C. Schmidt (eds.), Imperialism and Internationalism in the Discipline of International Relations (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2005).

Arlene B. Tickner and Ole Wæver (eds.), International Relations Scholarship around the World: Worlding Beyond the West (London: Routledge, 2009).

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Key words search

International Relations; Power; Institutions; International order; Global politics

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date