International Relations Theory

Subject POLS90028 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2013:

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. Repeat seminars may be scheduled, subject to enrolments
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours


Entry into the Master of International Relations (MIR)



Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Undergraduate level

Non Allowed Subjects:

166-574 International Relations Theory

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:


Dr Terry Macdonald


Dr. Terry Macdonald

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 / neoliberal institutionalism, as well as 'critical' approaches such as marxism constructivism, feminism and post-colonialism. Students will explore the more radical methodological debates between Rationalism and interpretivism, as well as 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.
  • understand the major points of disagreement between these perspectives.
  • be able to relate the theoretical debates about world politics to practical problems and issues.

1. Two x 1000 word briefing papers, written on seminar topics of your choosing, each worth 20% due during the semester;
2. A 3000 word essay worth 60% due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment that is submitted after the due date and up to 10 working days late without an approved extension will be marked on a pass/fail basis only. Assessment that is submitted later than 10 working days will not be accepted or marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject text book 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.

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 Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of International Relations

Download PDF version.