Foundations of International Relations

Course code POLI3150
Available in 2015
2015 Course Timetables


Foundations of International Relations examines the fundamental principles of international relations. The course will provide students with an understanding of the origins and evolution of the key concepts and theories that have been developed to explain the relations between modern nation-states. This will include detailed analysis of concepts such as idealism, realism, neo-realism, social constructivism, collective security, multilateralism, unilateralism, and the idea of the just war as well as analysis of approaches to statecraft, security, and diplomacy. These analyses will be situated in the context of significant international events such as colonialism and decolonization, the two World Wars, the Cold war, the post-September 11 reconfiguration of political relations, and the emerging doctrine of pre-emption.



  • Semester 1 - 2015

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nature and significance of politics and governance

2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of differences in political systems and the contexts in which they operate

3. Apply concepts and theories used in the study of political science to the analysis of interests, ideas, institutions and political behaviour

4. Critically evaluate different interpretations of political phenomena

5. Demonstrate knowledge of the different research methods used to investigate political phenomena

6. Demonstrate the capacity to use the different research methods used to investigate political phenomena

7. Demonstrate the capacity to develop evidence-based argument and evaluation

8. Gather, organise and use evidence from a variety of secondary and primary sources

9. Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems

10. Communicate effectively in oral and/or written work

11. Recognise the importance of ethical standards of conduct in the research and analysis of politics


The course content will be drawn from but not restricted to:

  1. Debates about the development of the Western system of relations between states from the Treaty of Westphalia to the present.
  2. Detailed analysis of core theoretical concepts such as idealism, realism, neo-realism, multilateralism, unilateralism.
  3. Discussion of the role of war (and terrorism) as an extension of politics and the role of diplomacy and statecraft.
  4. Analysis of the role of ethics and justice in international relations.
  5. Introduction to issues such as human rights, war crimes and a consideration of the role and justification for the use of weapons of mass destruction.
  6. Introduction to core security issues and concepts.

Assumed Knowledge

10 units in Politics at 1000 level or equivalent

Assessment Items

Written Assignment: Oral Reviews and Tutorial Papers

Essay: Essay / Contemporary / Analysis

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term