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IRLS500 - International Relations Theory

Course Details

Course Code: IRLS500 Course ID: 3557 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course provides an analysis of the three important theoretical debates of international relations: Idealism vs. Realism, Traditionalism vs. Behavioralism, and Realism vs. Neo-realism. The course also addresses the level of analysis problem, as well as the central assumptions and key concepts of various theories of international relations, with special emphasis on the basic concepts, propositions, and current critique of realism and neo-realism.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
09/28/20 - 02/26/21 03/01/21 - 04/25/21 Winter 2021 Session D 8 Week session
10/26/20 - 04/02/21 04/05/21 - 05/30/21 Spring 2021 Session B 8 Week session
11/30/20 - 04/30/21 05/03/21 - 06/27/21 Spring 2021 Session I 8 Week session
12/28/20 - 06/04/21 06/07/21 - 08/01/21 Spring 2021 Session D 8 Week session
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 09/26/21 Summer 2021 Session I 8 Week session
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 10/31/21 Summer 2021 Session D 8 Week session
04/26/21 - 10/01/21 10/04/21 - 11/28/21 Fall 2021 Session B 8 Week session
05/21/21 - 10/29/21 11/01/21 - 12/26/21 Fall 2021 Session I 8 Week session
06/28/21 - 12/03/21 12/06/21 - 01/30/22 Fall 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

The purpose of this course is to provide you with a map to identify the main conceptual features of international relations. It is not a course about current events per se, though an effort will be made to integrate contemporary events and issues as a way of illustrating theoretical concepts. Your knowledge of the salient analytical models and debates that comprise the field will be facilitated through exposure to concepts such as power, interests, norms, anarchy, sovereignty, and “globalization.” The course intends to serve four principal goals: 1) to develop critical and creative capacities for understanding issues in international relations; 2) to cover the most prevalent theoretical approaches currently used in the study of international relations; 3) to foster skills in formulating, organizing, integrating, and articulating one’s ideas; 4) to encourage an informed interest in understanding world affairs.

Specifically, after successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

CO-1: Analyze the basic theories that explain the interactions among the major actors in the international system, and that form the basis for the discipline of international relations

CO-2: Critique major theories of international relations

CO-3: Examine the causes of conflict and cooperation in the international system using the three primary levels of analysis

CO-4: Assess whether the prevalent theoretical models in the discipline accurately describe and explain current political and economic trends in the international system

CO-5: Apply theoretical arguments to contemporary cases of conflict and cooperation in the international system

These course objectives harmonize with the Degree Program Objectives, which require graduates to:

  • Construct and criticize the theory and politics of conflict, war, diplomatic relations, and the evolving nature of the international system.
  • Provide students with a research-active teaching environment to provide grounding in the study of international relations including its political, social, and economic aspects.
  • Assess how state, non-state, and supra-national actors behave and interact through a dynamic appreciation of different levels of analysis.
  • Critique the theories of international relations, the heritage and development of the discipline, its major debates, its inherent nature as an interdisciplinary study, and a critical appreciation of the essentially contested nature of politics in general, and international relations in particular.
  • Evaluate the nature and distribution of power in the international systems, the problems of political order and the social economic, historical and cultural context within which international actors operate.
  • Assess the current challenges to international order, cooperation, identity, social formations, and global issues, and possible strategies to address them.
  • Evaluate the changing role of the state in the context of globalization and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security.
  • Conceptualize the different kinds of actors on the international scene, their respective interests, and their influence across a range of issues.

The course grade is based on the following assessments:

Discussion Forums – 15 percent

On selected weeks, a discussion question is provided and posts should reflect an assimilation of the readings. Students are required to provide a substantive initial post by Thursday at 11:55 pm ET and respond to two or more classmates by Sunday 11:55 pm ET. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas and writing.

Research Proposal: Research Question 20 percent

This is the first installment of a three-part assignment. In this preliminary assignment you will present a research proposal for this research paper. The proposal will consist of:

  1. A brief description of the specific case-study

  2. A clear and concise research question

Literature Review – 40 percent

This is a literature review on the chosen topic. This assignment helps students complete the research paper.

Final Assignment – 25 percent

This assignment is a take-home essay assignment to test knowledge and assimilation of the course learning objectives. The exclusive use of required texts and readings is mandatory. No outside sources are allowed. The assignment should be no more and no fewer than eight pages.

NameGrade %
Discussion Forums 15.00 %
Week 7 Forum 3.75 %
Week 4 Forum 3.75 %
Week 3 Forum 3.75 %
Week 5 Forum 3.75 %
Research Question 20.00 %
Research Proposal Assignment 20.00 %
Final Assignment 25.00 %
Final Assignment 25.00 %
Literature Review 40.00 %
Literature Review/ Res. Paper 40.00 %
Book Title: There are no required books for this course.
Author: No Author Specified
Publication Info:

Book Title:There are no required books for this course.
Author: No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.