Module
descriptions

for MA International Relations

Core Modules

Introduction to International Relations

The Introduction to International Relations module will provide students with an in-depth introduction to the breadth of theories and approaches within international relations. Students will acquire the theoretical foundations of international relations, and will learn to distinguish academic debate in IR from the practice of relations between major players including states, international organisations, and NGOs. Through participation in discussions and debates in class, students will carry out a thorough examination of IR as an interdisciplinary approach, which will be used to analyse both historical event and current issues in the global political landscape.

International Law 

The International Law module introduces students to the principles and study of public international law. It analyses the role and importance of International Law and its impact on international relations and international organisations. The course provides students with a solid knowledge of the sources of International Law, examining its application (and misapplication) in history and in contemporary politics. It highlights and critically analyses current debates and changes in International Law. Topics may include state jurisdiction and state responsibility, international legal personality, diplomatic immunity, the regulation of the use of force, international human rights and humanitarian law, international criminal law, environmental law, trade law, and the legal aspects and structures of international institutions including the United Nations and WTO. The course aims to develop students’ analytical and critical thinking skills in the field of international law as it relates to international relations, and to sharpen problem-solving skills referring to relevant sections of the law and with the support of specific case studies. 

International Political Economy

This module aims to introduce students to the leading issues and theories that underpin today’s international political economy. Synthesising the interplay between trends at both the local and global levels, it provides students with the conceptual frameworks for exploring the modern world system as a complex evolving ecology of political, economic, cultural and technological processes. Combining in-class discussions, research and experiential learning, this module introduces students to a systemic understanding of the global environment. Students will learn to explore the interdependencies and intricate linkages between different political, social and economic processes and develop a deeper understanding of the dynamic forces shaping our current and future world. They will also learn and critically assess policy alternatives as perceived through the differing perspectives of decision makers and stakeholders involved in promoting socially inclusive and sustainable growth. 

Research Methods in International Relations

Research Methods in International Relations offers students a range of epistemological approaches within the international relations discipline, and will explore a range of research methods in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Students will learn to apply philosophical foundations, and acquire the skills necessary to conduct original research within the discipline. Topics to be discussed include: research design, research methodology; qualitative and quantitative analysis, SPSS, and output.  This module aims to familiarise students tools needed to research a variety of topics within the international relations landscape and from a wide range of academic and professional sources; they will also learn how to collect, interpret and analyse data, and will explore how to present findings.

Dissertation

The dissertation requires of the student a research effort, sustained over the whole length of the MA programme and using primary and secondary sources,on a specific topic in international relations of particular interest to the student, the output of which is a dissertation of 15,000 words, featuring an element of originality within an appropriate theoretical framework and/or in the method of analysing evidence. The dissertation must address the relations between states and/or societies; the topic is required to address a major issue or issues which are of concern to the study of IR (states, systems, organisations, war and peace, diplomacy or any other concepts of importance and relevance. The dissertation ties together all learning outcomes of the MAIR as a whole. It provides students with an opportunity to conduct an individual research study, under supervised contact; students will develop specialisation, and synthesise knowledge acquired throughout the year. 

Elective Modules

Foreign Policy and Negotiation

The Foreign Policy and Negotiation module aims to familiarise students with a wide range instruments in foreign affairs and provide them with sound analytical skills in the field.  The aim of this module is to analyse how states and non-state actors conduct their foreign relations and the role diplomatic negotiations play in the overall external relations of states. The module combines historical and theoretical approaches in exploring the evolution of the role of foreign policy in world affairs. This includes examining different foreign policy tools including diplomacy, military and force, economic incentives and negotiation strategies. It is the module’s aim to analyse the success or failure of foreign policy tools. Furthermore, this module puts great emphasis on examining diplomacy and negotiations in comparison to other instruments of foreign policy such as war, crisis, and sanctions, and evaluates under what circumstances diplomacy is preferable over other tools of foreign policy. Students will explore and examine the principal debates in the field of diplomacy, and by the end of the module will acquire important negotiation skills and techniques. This will be achieved through meticulous preparations for an MUN conference and the introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution (mediation) skills.

International Security 

This module introduces students to theoretical, normative and policy issues in security studies. It begins by looking at international security from a traditional perspective, focusing on theories of peace and war and investigating domestic and international responses to conflict. It then moves to new security threats including the rise in terrorism and radicalisation, but also the proliferation of nuclear weapons, organised crime and trafficking. The module then moves on to non-traditional security threats such as human security, food security, environmental security, energy security, population movements and health. The course assesses the role of the media and modernity in risk perception and examines the strategies adopted regionally and internationally to manage trans-border security threats. Students will develop analytical and critical thinking skills in the field of international security and to sharpen problem-solving skills by engaging with live cases and through role-play. 

Human Rights

The Human Rights module will focus on the historical and philosophical underpinning of human rights, in the context of international relations. It aims to introduce key concepts and theories in the field of human rights, as well as explore the history and development of the international human rights regime, including the study of international institutions and international non-government organisations. Students will become familiar with current political and ethical debates about human rights, and learn how such debates shape human protection. The module will encourage students to critically analyse the construction and application of human rights language in a wide variety of cases pertinent to the study of international relations. 

The State and Sovereignty

This module allows students to analyse the evolution of the modern state system from its origins in the late medieval period to contemporary notions of sovereignty in an age of globalization. We look at theoretical interpretations of sovereignty and statehood developed by contemporary actors and later scholars. At the end of the course students have an understanding of the importance of the state in the study of IR in relation to other actors, which is both theoretically sophisticated and historically literate.