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School of Social Sciences

Student in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons
BSocSc Politics and International Relations
Gain the skills to critical examine international and comparative politics.

BSocSc Politics and International Relations / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Questions About International Politics

Unit code POLI20521
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course will introduce and discuss a series of questions about international politics. The precise set of questions to be covered will be decided closer to the time. They will be designed to explore a range of relevant practices (e.g. war, terrorism, environmental protection) and concepts (e.g. power, state sovereignty, identity, gender, race).

Indicative schedule:

1) Introduction
2) How do we begin to think about the world?
3) Who do we think we are?
4) Why do we obey?
5) How do we find out what is going on in the world?
6) What makes the world dangerous?
7) What can we do to stop people harming others?
8) Why are some people better off than others?
9) What happens if we don't think in human terms?
10) Conclusion: How can we change the world?


There are many significant questions that intrigue students of international politics. This course aims to provide students with the opportunity to explore such questions in an analytically sophisticated way. It will do so by drawing on the ways in which scholars have already thought about these questions and examining the strengths and weaknesses of their responses. It will relate scholars' responses to actual practices of international politics, thereby demonstrating opportunities to think critically not only about scholars' analyses, but also the practices of international politics themselves. This course unit will show how such questions can and have been tackled, but will also stress that the important questions of international politics always remain open to an extent and are re-formulated, re-examined and challenged by each new generation of students.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

- Demonstrate an understanding of how to ask questions about international politics
- Outline and discuss how significant questions about international politics are shaped by and related to analyses of and practices in international politics
- Demonstrate the ability to think critically about questions, ways of tackling them and the implications of different strategies for doing so
- Articulate their own views on how to ask questions about international politics with recourse to (and sometimes rejection of) the literature covered in the course

Teaching and learning methods


Assessment methods

Book Review (1,500 words) 1/3 of mark; Essay (2,500 words) 2/3 of mark

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss (eds.), Global Politics: A New Introduction (London: Routledge 2008).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Cristina Masters Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 12 weeks


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