Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2020: Contemporary Theories of World Politics

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Stephane Baele (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning



This module provides an introduction to, and critical examination of, contemporary theoretical approaches to world politics. The study of conceptual frameworks in International Relations (IR) is important for how it can enhance our understanding of the dynamics of politics, including why and how the political world takes its existing forms. Theory is also the centre of gravity in the field of IR, providing points of collaboration and contestation between scholars on the nature of international political enquiry. The module explores a set of debates that turn around the definition and interpretation of key concepts such as structure, anarchy, power, identity. We will survey the key ‘isms’ of the field, realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism and neo-Gramscianism, feminism, poststructuralism and postcolonialism. These will be related to one another historically and conceptually and we will question the perceived distinctiveness of these traditions, by drawing links between them. You are asked to think in an open and critical manner about the purpose of theories of world politics, including understanding the major attributes of each framework and how, most importantly, they can be ‘put to work’ through empirical illustrations.  While there are no prerequisites for this module, all IR and/or Political Theory modules at level 1 are highly recommended as disciplinary and methodological training for the subjects covered in this module.

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