PIM81-Themes and Issues in Contemporary International Relations

Module Provider: Graduate Institute for Politics and Internat Studs
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Adam Humphreys

Email: a.r.humphreys@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module introduces students to a range of topical issues in post-Cold War international relations. It focuses, in particular, on those aspects of world politics which are relatively new or in a process of change, and which impact on or reflect the organization and working of international politics at a global level. Indicative examples include US hegemony, the rise of China, humanitarian intervention, international organizations and global governance, the importance of regions in world politics; climate change; the "Democratic Peace"; and democracy promotion.

•To introduce students to a range of the principal themes and issues that dominate contemporary international relations;
•To explore (i) how the academic discipline of International Relations can offer insight into these themes and issues and (ii) to what extent it can underpin policy advice;
•To strengthen students’ critical and analytical skills through engagement with a diverse literature (theoretical, historical, empirical and normative); the giving of oral presentations; participation in seminar discussions; and the writing of essays and exams;
•To provide an academic and intellectual basis for further academic research in international relations or for careers which require a sound understanding of international themes and issues.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes
By the end of the module students are expected to be able to:
•Demonstrate knowledge of some of the main themes and issues in contemporary international relations;
•Demonstrate the ability to critically examine these themes and issues and the constitution of the contemporary international order;
•Critically evaluate competing descriptions and analyses in the academic literature;
•Develop informed and original accounts of major themes and issues in contemporary international relations.

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to develop:
•Critical and reflective thinking;
•An informed and critical approach to using sources, including web-based information, through preparation of coursework;
•Confidence and effectiveness in oral and written communication through seminar discussions, presentations and coursework

Outline content:
Indicative content (subject to change):
1.Business meeting and introductory discussion
2.The nature of US power
3.The rise of China and the changing distribution of power
5.Sovereignty, Humanitarian intervention, and the responsibility to protect
6.International organisations and global governance
7.Regional security orders
8.Climate change and international cooperation
9.The “Democratic Peace”
10.Democracy promotion

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course is organized on the basis of weekly two-hour seminars. There are no lectures. The seminars will consist of student presentations followed by discussion of the week’s topic led by the module convenor.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 19 1
Guided independent study 140 40
Total hours by term 159.00 41.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

Students giving presentations will receive feedback from the module convenor and via seminar discussion. The seminar discussions provide important opportunities for students to test their views and receive tutor and peer feedback. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the module convenor’s office hours to request further one-to-one feedback on their presentations, seminar contributions, and essay plans.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission follow University policy.
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:
2 Hours

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall module mark

Reassessment arrangements:
Reassessment is by the original summative assessment method. Re-sit examinations take place in August/September or April/May of the following year.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding: Students may incur photocopying costs for seminar reading or essay research at 5p per sheet.
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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