PIM63-International Relations Theory

Module Provider: Graduate Institute for Politics and International Studies
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Martin Binder

Email: m.binder@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module introduces students to the advanced study of International Relations through a survey of the principal theoretical approaches employed in the academic discipline of International Relations.


  • To introduce students to the principal concepts and theories associated with the academic discipline of International Relations;

  • To enable students to gain an understanding of how International Relations theory can inform major debates in in contemporary world politics;

  • To strengthen students' critical and analytical skills through engagement with a diverse theoretical literature; the giving of oral presentations and participation in seminar discussions; and the writing of essays and exams;

  • To provide the analytic and intellectual basis for further academic research in international relations or for careers which require a sound understanding of International Relations.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the module students are expected to be able to:
• demonstrate knowledge of the main theories of International Relations;
• demonstrate the ability to critically examine the contemporary international order through the lens of these theories;
• demonstrate the ability to critically examine and evaluate competing theoretical arguments and to reach and defend clear conclusions about their strengths and weaknesses;

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to develop:
• critical and reflective thinking;
• an Informed and critical approach to using academic sources, including web-based information, through preparation of all coursework;
• confidence and effectiveness in oral and written communication through seminar discussions, presentations and essays.

Outline content:

A survey of the principal universal approaches to contemporary International Relations.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The course is organized on the basis of weekly two-hour seminars. There are no lectures. Except for week 1, which is a business meeting, the seminars will consist of a student presentation on each topic, followed by discussion of the week’s readings, led by the course convener.  

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study: 180
Total hours by term 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two summative essays of 2,500 words including footnotes and references but excluding the bibliography which will each contribute towards 50% of the overall mark. 

Formative assessment methods:

Students will provide written drafts and/or plans for the 2,500 word essay early in the autumn term, and will receive public comments and feedback from the module convenor. 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 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

Assessment requirements for a pass:
50% overall module mark

Reassessment arrangements:

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: 4 April 2020


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