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The University of Southampton

PAIR1001 Introduction to International Relations

Module Overview

• Introduce students to the study of structures, actors and policy processes in international politics • Enable students to distinguish between competing explanations of international relations • Develop students’ ability to restate arguments and apply them to relevant aspect of and actors in • the sphere of international relations • Build student capacity to interact with peers in discussion of pertinent themes in international relations • Enable students to make extensive use of library resources and build capacity to include wide-ranging bibliography in their work Pre-requisite for PAIR2001, PAIR2005, PAIR2014, PAIR2033, PAIR2034, PAIR3014, PAIR3041 and PAIR3042, 2019, 3028

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module explores different ways of thinking about the complexities of global politics today. It examines essential concepts, ideas and theories within the academic literature on international relations (IR). It seeks to illuminate their relevance to understanding and explaining contemporary global developments. Overall, it provides an introduction to the study of international relations and global politics. The class first examines a number of different theoretical approaches drawn from different intellectual traditions in the discipline, including Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, and some critical approaches to IR as well as the latest revisions to these schools and contemporary debates on governance and globalisation. The module also looks in some detail at real-world problems related to terrorism and security, human rights, global political economy, development, environment, and international migration, among others. The main goals of this module are: To identify and explore the dominant features of the contemporary global system. To familiarise students with the major theoretical traditions in the study of IR. To analyse the nature of power relations in the global system and their relationship to patterns of global wealth and poverty, war and peace, demographics, etc. To examine how the contemporary world order is ‘governed,’ as well as the limits to global governance. To assess processes of change and their implications for the future of world order.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key theoretical debates and issues of current global politics
  • Understand key principles of particular arguments in application to specific dimensions of international relations
  • Identify actors and processes in international politics, providing examples and framing opinion based on theories of international relations
  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of the literature and good use of bibliographic references.
  • Apply critical thinking and policy orientated writing


This course is an introduction to the major principles, concepts, actors, and theories of the international system and their application to current issues in world affairs. The module is divided into two parts. The first part of the course examines a number of different theoretical approaches drawn from different intellectual traditions in the discipline, including Classical and Contemporary Realism, Liberalism, and Radical approaches to IR as well as contemporary debates on Governance and Globalisation. The second part discusses a number of current policy issues such as terrorism and security, human rights, governance and global institutions, environment, global political economy, regionalism and immigration.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods


Independent Study121
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Art, Robert J. and Robert Jervis, eds. (2007). International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues. 

Nye, Joseph (2013). Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History. 

Mansbach, Richard W. and Taylor, Kirsten L. (2012). Introduction to Global Politics. 

Gilpin, Robert (2001). Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order. 

Baylis, John et al., eds. (2013). The Globalization of World Politics. 

Bull, Hedley (1977). The Anarchical Society. 

Heywood, Andrew (2014). Global Politics. 


Assessment Strategy

The arrangements applicable to students repeating the year are the same as the ones for referral.


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 60%
Reaction paper  (500 words) 20%
Reaction paper  (500 words) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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