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    Theories and concepts of international relations, ranging from realism, liberalism and constructivism to feminist, critical and poststructuralist approaches to the study of world politics.

    What is the nature of international life and world politics? How did the international system evolve and develop? Why do countries go to war? What are the possibilities for international cooperation? Why are poor countries of the world poor? In the field of international relations (IR), several different theoretical approaches have been developed over the last century to address these big questions.

    In this paper, we grapple with some of these key questions through an engagement with:

    • Different theoretical approaches in international relations as well as the debates that inform them
    • A critical examination of their underlying assumptions

    About this paper

    Paper title International Relations: Concepts and Theories
    Subject Politics
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    18 200-level POLS points
    POLS 204
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music
    Teaching staff

    Kina Kunz
    Dmitry Zavialov

    Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith (eds.), International Relations Theories. Discipline and Diversity, 4th Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Critical thinking, global perspective, communication, self-motivation, scholarship.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will:

    • Develop an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of the core concepts and theoretical approaches in international relations ranging from realism, liberalism and constructivism to critical, feminist, poststructuralist and postcolonial perspectives
    • Be able to historicise the development of the current international system and the discipline of international relations
    • Be able to analyse historical and contemporary events theoretically
    • Develop analytical and writing skills
    • Be able to carry out independent and self-directed research and present the findings in a written research essay


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
    Wednesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 11-13, 16-18, 20
    A2 Friday 11:00-11:50 11-12, 16-18, 20
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