Course code EDS374A

EDS374A International Relations Theory

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Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2020 .

Course responsible: Katharina Charlotte Laura Glaab
Teachers: Tomohiro Harada, Kirsti Stuvøy
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: Faculty of Landscape and Society
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Teaching exam periods:
The course has teaching and assessment in the autumn parallel.
Course frequency: Yearly
First time: 2019H
Preferential right:
Course contents:
The module is a graduate level introduction to International Relations (IR) theory. The course 1) introduces the students to main theoretical approaches in IR, core texts and their objects of study and 2) examines their meta-theoretical foundations to evaluate a theoretical lens. This course introduces the theories, debates, and major scholarly traditions in IR, which have become mainstream approaches and established schools of theory.
Learning outcome:

Aims and objectives

The module aims to provide students with knowledge of mainstream approaches in IR, and an understanding of the importance of theorizing. Students will develop independent and critical thinking skills and learn to analyse world politics. They will be trained to critically assess IR theories and discuss global politics from a conceptual perspective.

Learning activities:

The course includes lectures and seminars. In lecture sessions, the course convenor will provide an overview of this week's topic, contending perspectives and situate it within the field of IR. The lectures help to guide you through the topics, but in order to be successful in this course, you are expected to do the readings and engage in critical discussions in the seminars. Every lecture will be followed by a seminar session. A seminar will normally consist of a discussion and a short student presentation.


For the discussion you are expected to prepare the essential readings¿ for the seminar. For a better understanding of the lectures, it also makes sense to do the reading before the lecture. The further readings contextualize the topic. The list of readings is by no means exhaustive and serves to give you an overview of the academic debate and useful resources for your written work.

Prepare questions and points for further debate. In the seminar we will discuss the readings and the lecture in large and small groups.


The student presentation serves to illustrate how a specific theory is constitutive for empirical analysis and should give a new perspective to the discussion. In those weeks, in which we discuss specific theoretical perspectives, a small group of students is expected to give a short (10 minutes) presentation on one of this week's main readings.

Dunne, Timothy, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith, eds. 2007. International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Hoffmann, Stanley. 1977. "An American Social Science: International Relations." Daedalus 106 (3): 41-60.Wæver, Ole. 2013. "Still a Discipline after all these Debates?" In International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, eds. Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 306-327.Carvalho, Benjamin de, Halvard Leira, and John M. Hobson. 2011. "The Big Bangs of IR. The Myths That Your Teachers Still Tell You about 1648 and 1919." Millennium - Journal of International Studies 39 (3): 735-58.Bell, Duncan. 2009. "Writing the World. Disciplinary History and Beyond." International Affairs 85 (1): 3-22.Guzzini, Stefano. 2001. "The Significance and Roles of Teaching Theory in International Relations." Journal of International Relations and Development 4 (2): 98-117. (read 98-102)Hollis, Martin, and Steve Smith. 1991. "Introduction: Two Traditions" In Explaining and Understanding International Relations, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1-15.Lebow, Richard Ned. 2007. "What Can We Know? How Do We Know?" In Theory and Evidence in Comparative Politics and International Relations, eds. Richard Ned Lebow, and Mark Irving Lichbach. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1-24.Büger, Christian, and Frank Gadinger. 2007. "Reassembling and Dissecting: International Relations Practice from a Science Studies Perspective." International Studies Perspectives 8: 90-110.Feng, Liu, and Zhang Ruizhuang. 2006. "The Typologies of Realism." The Chinese Journal of International Politics 1 (1): 109-34.Waltz, Kenneth N. 2000. "Structural Realism after the Cold War." International Security 25 (1): 5-41.Mearsheimer, John J. 1994. "The False Promise of International Institutions." International Security 19 (3): 5-49.Rose, Gideon. 1998. "Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy." World Politics 51 (01): 144-72.Keohane, Robert O., and Lisa L. Martin. 1995. "The Promise of Institutionalist Theory." International Security 20 (1): 39-51.Reus-Smit, Christian. 2001. "The Strange Death of Liberal International Theory." European Journal of International Law 12 (3): 573-93.Ikenberry, G. John. 2009. "Liberal Internationalism 3.0. America and the Dilemmas of Liberal World Order." Perspectives on Politics 7 (01): 71-87.Moravcsik, Andrew. 1997. "Taking Preferences Seriously. A Liberal Theory of International Politics." International Organization 51 (4): 513-53.Buzan, Barry. 2010. "Culture and International Society." International Affairs 86 (1): 1-25.Dunne, Tim. 2003. "Society and Hierarchy in International Relations." International Relations 17 (3): 303-20.Little, Richard. 2000. "The English School's Contribution to the Study of International Relations." European Journal of International Relations 6 (3): 395-422.Wendt, Alexander. 1992. "Anarchy is What States Make of It. The Social Construction of Power Politics." International Organization 45 (2): 391-426.Finnemore, Martha, and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change." International Organization 52 (4): 887-917.Adler, Emanuel. 1997. "Seizing the Middle Ground. Constructivism in World Politics." European Journal of International Relations 3 (3): 319-64.Fierke, Karin M. 2001. "Critical Methodology and Constructivism." In Constructing International Relations: The next Generation, eds. Karin M. Fierke and Knud E. Jørgensen. Armonk, N.Y., London: M.E. Sharpe, 115-35.Epstein, Charlotte. 2013. "Constructivism or the Eternal Return of Universals in International Relations. Why Returning to Language is Vital for Prolonging the Owl's Flight." European Journal of International Relations 19 (3): 499-519.Barkin, J. Samuel. 2003. "Realist Constructivism." International Studies Review 5 (3): 325-42.
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:
A book review (1000 words), which is awarded a pass or fail grade.
Written take-home exam of 48 hours on mainstream approaches in IR at the end of the autumn parallel. Grades are on an A-F scale.
Type of course:
ca. 40
External examiner will cross-examine the exams.
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / F