Skip navigation to content

IR2005 Theoretical Approaches to International Relations

SCOTCAT credits:20
Academic year(s):2017/8
SCQF Level 8
Planned timetable:11.00 am Wed, 10.00 am Thu

Theory is central to the discipline of International Relations. It is theory that distinguishes the field from the study of history, current affairs or journalism and makes the subject area more than simple descriptive thought. This module examines the main current theories in IR and provides an overview of their main theoretical approaches to the study of IR, from Liberalism and Realism; through Constructivism and the English School, to radical Marxist and Neo-Marxist perspectives as well as Feminism, Post-Colonialism and Postmodernism. The main purpose of this module is to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of how major scholars, past and contemporary, have theorised about the dynamics of international relations. The theories generally make a number of propositions which sometimes offer conflicting perspectives, but also occasionally overlap. Our main task will be to outline, critique, compare and contrast the assumptions and values which underlie each of these theories so students may enhance their own critical understanding of IR as well as form their own perspectives.

Place in programme(s) and relationship to other modules


Compulsory for International Relations and BA (Intl Hons) International Relations

UG Pre-requisite(s):IR1005 and IR1006
UG Modules required for:IR2006

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact:2 x 1-hour lectures (x 10 weeks), 1 x 1-hour tutorial (x 10 weeks), 1 consultation hour with Tutor (x 10 weeks) and 2 consultation hours with Year Coordinator (x 12 weeks).2 hours of exam feedback are given in week 1 of the following semester.
Total module hours:
  • Scheduled learning: 66
  • Guided independent study: 134

Assessment pattern

UG As defined by QAA:
  • Written examinations: 60%
  • Practical examinations: 0%
  • Coursework: 40%
UG As used by St Andrews:2-hour Written Examination = 40%, Class Test = 20%, Coursework = 40%
UG Re-assessment:3-hour Written Examination = 100%


Module coordinator:Dr N Saunders
Module teaching staff: