Contemporary International Theory (L2015N)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

This module introduces you to the major theories that make up the discipline of international relations. It addresses them in the order in which they appeared historically. It is based on a mixture of key original readings, explanatory texts, and examples of how they have been applied in real-world contexts.

The module begins with the ‘mainstream’ approaches such as realism, liberalism and constructivism. It then also examines Marxism and critical theory, as well as the multiple new radical approaches (such as poststructuralism, feminism and postcolonialism) that have followed in their wake. You will also by consider the condition of international relations as a field today.


100%: Lecture


30%: Coursework (Professional log)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 20 hours of contact time and about 130 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: