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Theory of international relations

Syllabus for pre-PhD Distance learning course on International Relations

THEORY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 

Menua Soghomonyan, PhD, Associate Professor
Yerevan State University, Distance Learning Laboratory

1. Course module description
A study of theory of International Relations is very important for future International relations specialists and diplomats, because their analysis will serve as theoretical base for implementation of rational foreign policy. Theory points out the similarities and differences of historical processes that is very necesary for arguing for concrete political decision in various cases. This course module is designed to specify basic paradigmatic approaches to explain a number of important phenomena in the field of international relations – the essence of international processes, systems and institutions, notions and criteria of power, peace, security and stability, role of international organizations and supranational institutions and many other issues.

2. Objectives of the course module

2.1 To introduce students with the core concepts of International Relations theory.
2.2 To introduce students with basic problems of the field through more opted theories of International Relations.
2.3 To show the students the advantages and effectiveness of multi-level analyses in international relations and to urge them to use them in their future researches.
2.4 To explore the essence of security and the means to preserve it. To assess the spread of nuclear weapons on international peace and stability through the lenses of theories.
2.5 To explore foreign policy decision making process.
2.6 To explore the impacts of the End of the Cold War to the Theory of International Relations.

3. Assessment
Since this is a distance-learning course, assessment will be based only on students’ written work.

  • Weekly written essays – 60%
  • Final essay - 40%

4. Course module program

Class 1 The discipline of International Relations
- The importance of studying International Relations.
- Formation of the discipline of International Relations.
- History, Philosophy, Behavioralism and alternative methods in the study of International Relations.
- The historical context of International Relations.
- The notion of International System.
- The evolution of the model of International System.

Readings:

  • MINGST KAREN, A. 2001 Essentials of International Relations (pp. 1-56), W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
  • Rourke JOHN, T. 2001 International Politics on the World Stage, Eight edition (pp. 1-48). McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford.
  • Strange, Susan. 1991 What about International Relations (pp. 4-12)//The Theory and Practice of International Relations Eighth edition, ed. By Olson William C, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
  • Smith Thomas W, 1999 History and International Relations (pp. 7-33). Routledge, New York, London.
  • Rengger Nicholas J, 2000 International Relations, Political Theory and the Problem of Order. Beyond International Relations Theory? (pp. 1-36) Routledge, London, New York.

Assignment 1:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- How does International Relations affect you in your daily life?
- How have History and philosophy been used to study International Relations? What alternative methods have challenged traditional methods? Substantiate your answer.
- What are the major trends in the evolving world system from the birth of states to the present?

Class 2 The contending paradigms of International Relations
- The Realist tradition of International Relations: basic principles.
- Evolution of and variations in Political realism: Waltz’s Neorealism.

- The Liberal paradigm of International Relations: from traditional Idealism to Neoliberal Institutionalism.
- The Radicalist perspective of International Relations. Problems of the North-South relations.
- Marginal theories: Constructivism, Postmodernism, Feminism.

Readings:

  • Morgenthau Hans, J. 1985 Politics among Nations. The Struggle for Power and Peace. Sixth edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
  • Donnely Jack. 2000 Realism and international relations. Cambridge University Press.
  • BROWN CHRIS&AINLEY KIRSTEN 2005 Understanding International Relations. Third edition. Palgrave Macmilan. New York.
  • BURCHILL SCOTT, LINKLATER ANDREW, DEVETAK RICHARD, DONNELY JACK, PATERSON MATTHEW, REUS-SMITH CHRISTIAN, TRUE JACQUI 2005 Theories of International Relations, Third edition, Palgrave Macmilan, New York.
  • BEATE JAHN editor 2006 Classical theory in International Relations. Cambridge University Press.
  • CRAWFORD ROBERT M. 2005 Idealism and Realism in International Relations. Beyond the discipline. Routledge. London, New York.
  • ELIAS JUANITA, SUTCH PETER 2007 The Basics – International Relations. Routledge. London, New York.

Assignment 2:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- Compare theoretical underpinnings of Classic Realism and Neorealism, Liberalism and Neoliberal institutionalism, Radicalism (Instrumental Marxism and Neomarxism) and Constructivism, Postmodernism and Feminism?
- Analyze any contemporary international political event in terms of theoretical perspective? 

Class 3 Levels of analysis in International relations
- The importance of levels of analysis approach in studying International Relations.
- System-Level analysis. State-Level analysis. Individual-Level analysis.

Readings:

  • WALTZ KENNETH, N., 2001 Man, the State and War: a theoretical analysis. Columbia University Press. New York.
  • WALTZ KENNETH, N., 1967 International Structure, National force and the Balance of World Power. Journal of International Affairs, 21:2, 229
  • HOBSON JOHN, M., 2002The State and International Relations. Cambridge University Press.
  • MEARSHEIMER JOHN, J., Structural Realsim. Chapter 4. Available at www.oup.com/uk/orc/bin/.../dunne_chap04.pdf
  • WENDT ALEXANDER, 2003 Social theory of International Relations. Cambridge University Press.
  • BULL HEDLEY & WATSON ADAM 1984 The Expansion of International Society. Oxford University Press.
  • MINGST KAREN, A. 2003Essentials of International Relations (pp. 100-151), W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
  • Rourke JOHN, T. 2001 International Politics on the World Stage, Eight edition (pp. 49-129). McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford.

Assignment 3:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- What concepts do realists/liberals/radicals employ to analyze the international system?
- How is state power measured?
- What methods do states use to exercise power?
- Which individuals matter in international relations?
- What psychological factors have an impact on elites making foreign policy decisions? Substantiate your answer.

Class 4 The problem of peace and the use of force in international relations
- The causes of war: 3 levels of analysis.
- System-level causes of war.
- State-level causes of war.
- Individual-level causes of war.

- Types of warfare: General War, Limited War, Civil War, Terrorism.
- National Security: a traditional road to enhance security.
- Balance of Power theory.
- Defense and Deterrence.

- International Security: an alternative road to enhance security.
- Rethinking security.
- Means of International Security: Arms control, Peacemaking, Peacekeeping.

Readings:

  • WALTZ KENNETH, N., 2001 Man, the State and War: a theoretical analysis. Columbia University Press. New York.
  • WALTZ KENNETH N., SAGAN SCOTT D., 2003 The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: For Better or Worse? Norton W.W. & Company Inc.
  • WILLIAM ANDREW, 2006 Liberalism and War: the victors and the vanquished (pp. 10-65). Routledge. London, New York.
  • MORGAN PATRICK, M., 2003 Deterrence Now. Cambridge University Press.
  • MINGST KAREN, A. 2001Essentials of International Relations (pp. 152-181), W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
  • Rourke JOHN, T. 2001 International Politics on the World Stage, Eight edition (pp. 318-387). McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford.

Assignment 4:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- Why and how can the force be used? Substantiate your answer.
- How Waltz argues the spread of nuclear weapons will make the world more secure?
- What arguments are brought by Sagan to insist on pessimistic perspective of proliferation of nuclear weapons?
- What are the bases to rethink peace and security?

Class 5 Understanding Foreign policy: Power and Diplomacy vs. Law and Morality
- National power.
- The elements of power: natural and social, tangible and intangible.

- Diplomacy: functions and rules.
- The problem of legal regulation of International Relations.
- Ethical dimension of International Relations.
- Interaction of law and morality in International Relations.

Readings:

  • Donnely Jack. 2000 Realism and international relations (pp. 161-192). Cambridge University Press.
  • Morgenthau Hans, J. 1985 Politics among Nations. The Struggle for Power and Peace. Sixth edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
  • FROST MERVYN, 2009 Global Ethics: Anarchy, Freedom and International Relations. Routledge. London, New York.
  • GISMONDI MARK, 2008 Ethics, Liberalism and Realism in International Relations. Routledge. New York.
  • SALMON TREVOR, IMBER MARK 2008 Issues in International Relations, Second edition(pp. 61-106). Routledge. New York.

Assignment 5:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- How the state’s power is measured? What are the negative sides of the elements of national power?
- How has diplomacy been evolved? Has it lost its previous importance now? How would you assess the role of public diplomacy? Substantiate your answer.
- How would international law be applied in this multicultural world to be effective? Substantiate your answer.

Class 6 Means of prosperity: Competition, Cooperation and International Political Economy
- Theories of International Political Economy.
- Economic nationalism.
- Economic internationalism.
- Economic structuralism.
- The new international economic order.
- The role of institutions in managing power, competition and development.

Readings:

  • CONLEY TOM 2007 International Political Economy // International Relations theory for 21th Century: An introduction. Edited by Martin Griffiths (pp 135-145). Routledge. London, New York.
  • RENAUD JEAN-CLAUDE 1991 World Economics: A Time for Questions // The Theory and Practice of International Relations (pp. 183-186). Edited by William Clinton Olson, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
  • MINGST KAREN, A. 2002Essentials of International Relations (pp. 182-216), W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London.
  • Rourke JOHN, T.2001 International Politics on the World Stage, Eight edition (pp. 388-481). McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford.

Assignment 6:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- What are the controversies in the debate over the New International Economic Order? Substantiate your answer.
- What role have the major international economic institutions played in the post World War 2 era? 
- What roles have multinational corporations and nongovernmental organizations played in the international political economy? Substantiate your answer.

Class 7 International relations theory and the end of the Cold War
- The end of the Cold War and the challenges for International Relations theory.
- Transformation of East-West relations: the place for Political Realism.
- Liberalism and the end of the Cold War.
- The problem of stability in Post-Cold-War world.

Readings:

  • BUZAN BARRY AND WAEVER OLE. 2003 Regions and powers: The structure of international security. Cambridge University Press.
  • FUKUYAMA FRENSIS 1997 The End of History? In Foreign Policy Agenda, Foreign Affairs, New York.
  • MEARSHEIMER JOHN 1997 Back to the Future: Instability in Europe after the Cold War. In Foreign Policy Agenda, Foreign Affairs, New York.
  • HUNTINGTON SAMUEL 1997 The Clash of Civilizations? In Foreign Policy Agenda, Foreign Affairs, New York.
  • RICHARD NED LEBOW AND THOMAS RIS-KAPPEN 1995 International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War. Columbia University Press, New York.

Assignment 7:
Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

- What are the three most problematic issues challenged the International Relations Theory after the Cold War? Substantiate your answer. 
- Has Political Realism changed its positions in IR theory if we consider Fukuyama’s, Mearsheimer’s and Huntington’s theories? Substantiate your answer.

Class 8 Closing exam
Based on your interest, choose any topic discussed within this course module and write an analytical essay (13-15 pages).

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