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International Relations Concepts & Theories
Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status
Course Description

This course provides an advanced introduction to IR concepts and theories. The purpose of the course is to give students an in-depth and critical understanding of select ways of doing IR – their conceptual grammars, methodologies and substantive foci through which they make world politics thinkable and doable and through which they problematise it in different ways – and a glimpse of the vastness of the IR archive of canonical and alternative knowledges that lie beyond what we cover in the course. After showcasing how IR is being done from within the canon – covering Constructivist, Liberal, Realist, Feminist + Historical Materialist IR), the course will turn towards ways of doing IR otherwise – from beyond the canon. We will cover the issue of racism in the canon and in international politics; the ethnocentrism of IR theory and efforts to construct an other, global IR; the multiple non-Western births of IR thinking; and a number of recent ‘turns’ in IR – the turn towards emotions; Queer IR; and Everyday IR. We will conclude with a sociological view of the IR canon and IR turns.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able

  • to compare, contrast and evaluate different interpretations and explanations of world politics;
  • detect the ontological assumptions that are the launch pad for empirical investigations;
  • recognise the interpretative possibilities in any given world political phenomena;
  • critically reflect upon and evaluate their own standpoints on world politics and those of others;
  • distinguish between a well-reasoned argument about world politics and an incoherent one.



The final grade is made up of the following components:

  1. Seminar attendance (mandatory) and participation: 15%
  2. Oral presentation of assigned texts: 20%
  3. Position paper (based on the texts of your oral seminar presentation): 30% (1500 words; without bibliography and endnotes/footnotes)
  4. Term paper: 35% (3000 words; without bibliography and endnotes/footnote)


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