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    The basic theories and debates in the international relations theory literature. Theories covered include: realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism.

    Why do states form alliances? Has the state been overtaken by regions? What is theory and how can it help us to understand the real world? To the extent that the world we live in is not random and reflects patterns of behaviour, theory is our main tool for understanding it. In this paper, we will survey the main theories used in contemporary international relations theory.  

    About this paper

    Paper title International Relations Theory
    Subject Politics
    EFTS 0.25
    Points 30 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,860.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Limited to
    Teaching staff

    Associate Professor Nicholas Khoo

    Paper Structure

    Week 1: Introduction 

    Week 2: Realism: Classical Realism, Structural Realism, Neoclassical Realism

    Week 3: Realism - Discussion

    Week 3: Liberalism: Democratic Peace, Economic Interdependence, Institutions

    Week 4: Liberalism - Discussion

    Week 5: Constructivism: Norms, Identity, Culture, Socialisation

    Week 6: Constructivism - Discussion

    Week 7: Debates in International Security - Alliances

    Week 8: Debates in International Security - Discussion on Alliances

    Week 9: Debates in International Political Economy - Regionalism

    Week 10: Debates in International Political Economy - Discussion on Regionalism


    There will be no course reader for POLS 540. Readings are available from Library short loan desk.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will have:

    • The capacity to analyse and evaluate the issues and debates in the international relations theory literature
    • The ability to conduct independent and self-directed research
    • The ability to synthesise and integrate information from many sources into an original text


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-21
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