EDS203 Introduction to International Relations

Credits (ECTS):5

Course responsible:Kirsti Stuvøy

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:125 hours

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in August block. This course has teaching/evaluation in August block.

About this course

This course introduces students to international relations as a field of study. Concepts and theories are important analytical tools in this field. They guide empirical analysis and order certain ways of seeing the world. Some theories are state-centric while other theories engage a plurality of actors in international relations, such as civil society, private actors, criminal or terrorist actors. While realist theory emphasizes a permanency in state interest, constructivist theory emphasizes interest as shaped by interaction between actors and by how an actor’s identity has been shaped historically. To make sense of such theoretical plurality, international relations scholars address questions such as: What is the role of structure and agency in shaping the interests, identities, and practices of state and non-state actors in international relations? How do theories define competing ways of thinking about international relations? What theories have emerged to makes sense of contemporary war and international crises? This course is an introduction to such questions focusing on core concepts and their contestation in international relations. The concepts in focus are global order, institutions, identity, war/violent conflict, and security. The course introduces feminist and decolonial perspectives and addresses gender, racism and colonialism to characterise the nexus of the global and the local/everyday in international relations. The course uses concepts and theories as analytical tools in empirical analysis of global challenges such as the climate crisis, war/violence, and inequality. The course introduces basic research skills relevant to studying international relations, including how to search for sources, academic reference technique, and academic writing.

Learning outcome

Students identify international relations as a heterogeneous field of study, encompassing a multiplicity of actors, events,and processes, and can explain the plurality of theories in international relations.

Students can define selected concepts of international relations and relate them to theories such as realism, liberal-institutionalism, constructivism, and critical theory. Students recognize that concepts are contested in international relations/social science.

Students can apply concepts and theories to discuss empirical developments in international relations. For that purpose, they are familiar with basic research techniques, can identify relevant sources, show good reference technique and discuss different perspectives.

Students communicate expectations about collaboration and support from peers. Students become team players. Students participate actively in class discussions, demonstrate their competence in academic referencing and document good writing skills.

  • The course uses a combination of learning methods, including lectures, discussions, group work, oral and written presentations, role play, and consultations with academic advisor. Students read course literature in preparation of classes, in which the activities provide space for discussing, reflecting and developing the understanding of core concepts and theories in international relations. Group work is used to introduce new students to each other and become experienced with how to work collaboratively with new peers. This helps students gain a better understanding of themselves and how others see them, which is a valued skill by employers. In group work students can process more information than in individual work, it stimulates creativity, and often helps students remember and find better solutions. Students discuss and collaboration on the common goal of developing conceptual comprehension and apply theory in empirical analysis of international relations. 

    Attendance: Generally speaking, and across academic disciplines, there is a strong correlation between lecture attendance and a student's final mark for any given course. Despite one or two exceptions, poor attendance usually translates into poor final marks. This is because you will not have had the forum to discuss ideas, nor will you have had a comparable guide to the ideas and problems discussed during the lecture course. It is therefore strongly recommended that you attend all lectures. It is also recommended that the students organize so called colloquies, discussion groups in where they can discuss their ideas on religion and politics, however, this is up to the students them-selves. 

    Independent work: Of course, independent work is as important as attendance. It is advised that you read broadly. On average, and other commitments notwithstanding, you are expected to give about day a week to self-study on this course, i.e. at least six to seven hours per week. It is recommended that you do at least two hours of preparation a week for the seminars and at least an hour of additional reading before rather than after the lecture. Lectures are to help you with the reading not to substitute for it. Good preparation will greatly reduce the amount of work you will put into writing your essays.

    Skills in focus: This course has selected skills-oriented training sessions relevant to academic studies. Students are introduced to the NMBU Writing Centre, the NMBU library, as well as the university regulation on plagiarism and other study specific questions regarding studies at NMBU.  

  • Students are introduced to a detailed course outline (syllabus) for the course at the beginning of the term. The course outline is presented in the digital learning platform Canvas, and shows the day-to-day plan for the course, its activities and relevant reading. Canvas is available to students once they have registered for studies at NMBU, usually early August. Information about time and place of classes is available in Time Edit on NMBU's website under course code EDS203. 

    The course reponsible is available for supervision during class, in group work, and individual. Office hours are presented at the beginning of the course. 

    Students are introduced to the NMBU Writing Centre, the NMBU library, and the university regulation on plagiarism and other study specific questions regarding studies at NMBU.  

  • Bachelor degree
  • Evaluation will be based on two assignments graded pass or fail: 

    1. Group work: Bringing in the News. Students work in groups and select from the news an international relations issue to discuss using relevant concepts and theory. Students prepare an oral presentation. The group distribution will be selected by the module convener and the group plans its meetings independently.
    2. Individual paper: Working with concepts and theories. Assignment text provided in Canvas. Paper to be submitted at the end of the course. This paper shall be 2000 words (maximum). 

    The paper should be written in font 12 and the Times New Roman Style, with 1.5 line spacing.

    Exam only in English. 

  • External evaluation shall be used in connection with the assessment arrangements.
  • 1. Compulsory attendance in workshop on academic referencing.

    2. Submit signed plagiarism declaration (on Canvas).

  • M-IR
  • This course is for students with admission to the Master of Science program in International Relations.

    Students on exchange, such as Erasmus, are welcome to attend, and to do so, exchange students can contact course responsible on e-mail.