International Relations Theory

Subject POLS90028 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week. If enrolments exceed 30, the 2nd hour of the seminar may be split into 2 or 3 small classes.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Entry into the Master of International Relations, Master of International Politics, BA Honours (International studies), Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (International Politics) or Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (International Politics)
Corequisites: none
Recommended Background Knowledge: Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level
Non Allowed Subjects: none
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Prof Ralph Pettman


Prof. Ralph Pettman

Subject Overview: This subject provides an advanced introduction to the major theories of International Relations and their influence on international affairs. Students will be introduced to mainstream approaches like realism, neo-realism, liberal internationalism and neoliberal institutionalism, as well as critical approaches such as marxism, constructivism, feminism and post-colonialism. Students will explore the key methodological debates between rationalism and interpretivism, the broad tensions between universalism and particularism, and the cultural and religious contexts in which these debates arise. The subject will also explore how different theories of International Relations have shaped contemporary debates and practices in international affairs, including the role of power and morality, the role of international institutions, and practices of inclusion and exclusion.
  • demonstrate a familiarity with the major theoretical perspectives in world politics.
  • be able to relate the theoretical debates about world politics to practical problems and issues.
  • understand the major points of disagreement between these perspectives.
Assessment: 5 x 500 word briefing papers, each worth 10% and due throughout the semester, plus a 2500 word essay worth 50% due at the end of semester.
Prescribed Texts: A Reading Pack will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • to develop persuasive arguments on a given topic.
  • apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry.
  • be able to communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively.
  • to develop cross-cultural understanding.
Notes: This subject is a compulsory component of the Master of International Relations.
It is also compulsory in the following courses, for those students who have not completed 166-401: Master of International Politics 200-point program(teach-out), Honours (International studies), Postgraduate Certificate in Arts (International Politics), Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (International Politics).
Related Course(s): Master of International Politics
Master of International Relations
Master of International Studies
Postgraduate Diploma in International Studies
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: International Politics
International Politics
International Studies

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