International political theory is about different ways in which the nature of international politics may be explained, understood and judged. As a topic it is focused on theoretical texts and concepts (rather than empirical, historical material).
If taken as part of a BSc degree, courses which must be passed before this course may be attempted:
- IR1011 Introduction to international relations.
Dominant theories of international politics from the foundation of international relations as a discipline in 1919 to the end of the Cold War:
- Liberalism (liberal internationalism, pluralism, interdependence, neo-liberalism)
- Realism (classical political realism and neo-realism)
- International society
- Marxism/ structuralism (dependency, world-systems theory)
Critical theories of international politics:
- Critical theory
- Feminist theory
- Can IR be a science?
- Structure and agency in explaining international politics
Theorising international politics in the 21st century:
- Normative discourse in international politics
- Unipolarity and the question of empire
- Cultural bias in IR theory.
If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of different frameworks for thinking about international politics
- Demonstrate knowledge of a range of ideas, concepts and texts in international political theory and the historical contexts in which they arose
- Distinguish and evaluate different methodological approaches within the study of international politics
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of alternative ways of explaining, understanding and judging contemporary international politics.
Unseen written exam (3 hrs).
- Baylis, John and Steve Smith (eds). The Globalization of World Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Brown, Chris, Terry Nardin and Nicholas Rengger (eds) International Relations in Political Thought: texts from the Ancient Greeks to the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Brown, Chris. Understanding International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
- Burchill, S., Andrew Linklater et al. Theories of International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
- Williams, H., M. Wright and T. Evans (eds). A Reader in International Relations and Political Theory. Milton Keynes: Open University.
Course information sheets
Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.