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 SSC 255 - Theories of International Relations


This course aims to provide students with an in-depth introduction to the field of International Relations (IR). The first part of the course will use a deductive approach; after obtaining an understanding of the basic components of diverse theoretical school of thought, these are applied to different examples in today’s international relations. In 1919, in the wake of the First World War,

International Relations was created as a scholarly approach to mostly try to understand questions of peace and war. Before that, between 1890 and 1918 (and until 1945), a classical school of Geopolitics was one of its predecessors. Soon, IR developed quite rapidly. Today it constitutes a pluralist whole of approaches, which we will in class reconstruct into their essence, and apply them to brief case studies. The following approaches and domains will be

discussed: (Neo)Realism, (Neo)Liberalism, Marxist theories, Constructivism (and Critical Geopolitics), Foreign Policy Analysis, Diplomacy, Diplomatic Studies & the English School.

The second part of the course will use an inductive approach. Students will (learn to) analyse, with the help of the concepts and schools of thought from the first part, a series of current thematical problems in international relations. The insights we gather are debated in group. The following issues are tackled; current international environmental issues (& Green Theory), the energy crisis, water & natural resources, humanitarian intervention and coercive diplomacy, North-South & South-South-relations (Theories of Postcolonialism), the international economic crisis and Geo-economics.

The third part of the course will look at international negotiation, from a theoretical point of view, but especially also the practical side. The course ends with a negotiation simulation on a matter of high importance for the UN Security Council (case to be announced later).

The fourth and final part of the course considers the future of International Relations as a body of literature and science.



Political Science and International Relations


Any 100-level social science course

Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course:

  • SSC 354 Security in the Post-Cold War Era
  • SSC 356 Public Policy Analysis