International Relations

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

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Course Description: 

Mandatory for MAIPA students

Foundations Course – MA in International Public Affairs

This mandatory course provides an advanced introduction to the foundations of international relations and the discipline’s main concepts and theories.  The course will begin by examining the roots of contemporary international relations as a result of the “Global Transformation” —to use Buzan and Lawson’s term—that witnessed nothing less than a fundamental shift in the nature of international politics and the international order beginning in the nineteenth-century. Stated simply, international relations as both practice and academic discipline emerged out of the global processes and transformations that developed globally over the course of the hundred years from roughly the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the end of World War I.  The remainder of the course will explore the myriad “languages” and concepts that constitute the foundation of how world politics is defined, studied, examine, and debated.  We will begin by looking at the cornerstones of international relations theory, including constructivist, liberal, and realist international relations.  The course will then turn towards alternative and more recent developments in international relations theory that look to challenge prevailing notions of how we understand the field.  This includes Marxist, feminist, post-colonial, and post-structuralist international relations.  Taken together, we will examine the ramifications of these various approaches to thinking about international relations and explore how they are applied to issue-specific domains of world politics.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • to develop an understanding of the foundations of international relations both as a practice and as a field of study.
  • to gain new perspectives on many of the basic assumptions and ontological assumptions prevalent in the discipline of international relations
  • compare, contrast and evaluate different interpretations and explanations of world politics
  • recognize the interpretative possibilities in any given world political phenomena
  • critically reflect upon and evaluate their own standpoints on world politics and those of others

Attendance and Participation                                                              10%

Presentations                                                                                       10%

Response Paper 1 (500 words)                                                           15%

                        To be submitted by the end of week 5

Response Paper 2 (500 words)                                                           15%

                        To be submitted by the end of week 11

Project Proposal and Annotated Bibliography                                   20%

                        To be submitted at the end of week 6

Final Paper (3,000 words)                                                                  30%

                        To be submitted at the end of week 12