Contemporary Political Theory

School: School of Government and Society
Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies

Final year module

Lecturer: Dr Richard North

In this module, you are introduced to the study of international politics and the main approaches, theories and debates in the discipline of International Relations. The main aims of this module are both to introduce you to some of the main issues of international politics, such as war and peace, development, regional integration and security, and to make you familiar with different ways to conceptualise and analyse these issues. This means that a substantial part of this module is devoted to the introduction of the main traditional theories of International Relations and the concepts they use. Studying international politics is theoretical, one of the central messages throughout the course is that different theoretical approaches generate different images of the world that build on particular assumptions. Therefore, while you may think you know what the current problems of international politics are and how to solve them, one of the aims of this course is to alert you to other ways of seeing things. This should allow you to make a more confident decision about your own stance towards particular issues and to analyse these issues more thoroughly, but it should also make you question both your own as well as others’ representations of the world. 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module the student should be able to: 

  • Distinguish major theoretical perspectives on international politics and compare their value for the analysis of specific problems of international politics as well as their basic assumptions and the worldviews they generate.
  • Identify main actors in international politics and relate them to the contexts in which they operate.
  • Evaluate analyses of international politics from a theoretically grounded point of view.


  • Term Two: 1 essay x 3,000 word assessed work (50%)
  • Term Three: 3 hour examination (50%)

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.