PIM81-Themes and Issues in Contemporary International Relations

Module Provider: Graduate Institute for Politics and International Studies
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Andreas Behnke

Email: a.behnke@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

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 4. Globalisation 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. A Symposium on Current Affairs

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 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two summative essays of 3,000 words each including footnotes and references but excluding the bibliography, each of which will contribute towards 50% of the overall mark.

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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
50% overall module mark

Reassessment arrangements:

Reassessment is by the original summative assessment method 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: 8 August 2018


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