Module code: POL2030

Module Overview

This module seeks to introduce students to a range of topics and issues that has been central to key debates in the discipline of International Relations (IR). The module will cover a number of theoretical perspectives, covering not only mainstream theories such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism, but also critical approaches such as Marxism, feminism, and post-structuralism, so that students are introduced to global perspectives and resources on international relations. During the module, these approaches will be related to the analysis of topical cases ranging from humanitarian intervention and nuclear deterrence to human security and the role of women in international relations.  

The globalisation of world politics and the impact this has had on IR as a discipline will provide the intellectual framework for the analysis presented in the module. The module will enable students to explore examples within each theory as well as analysing empirical cases from different theoretical standpoints. Overall, the aim is to provide students with an overview of the theoretical landscape in international relations and how theory connects with empirical evidence in this domain. 



Module provider


Module Leader

CHAPPELL Laura (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module builds on POL1013 Introduction to International Relations. It therefore begins by recapping on knowledge and understanding acquired in that module. Student development is reflected in the need to move beyond the rationalist tradition and to consider the contribution of the reflectivists to our understanding of IR.  

Students are challenged further by the requirement to identify and understand the developments within the discipline from its early beginnings to the present day. This work on the historiography offers important lessons in understanding the connection of theory to practice and vice versa. 


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ARTICLE EVALUATION (2,000 WORDS) 50
Coursework ESSAY (2,000 WORDS) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity:

  • To demonstrate an understanding of theoretical debates and to analyse and critique them.

  • To employ theory to underpin an argument.

  • To explore differing relevant theoretical perspectives.

  • To utilise relevant material which relates to the arguments they are investigating

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Article Evaluation – 2,000 words – 50%

  • Essay – 2,000 words – 50%

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive verbal feedback in class concerning their contribution.

Module aims

  • To build on the work done in POL 1013 Introduction to International Relations and to introduce students to a wider range of theories and concepts, relating to International Relations.
  • To introduce students to the historiography of the IR disciplines and to encourage them to see the connection between theoretical developments and world events.
  • To develop students' critical understandings of the role and place of theory in order that they can assess its utility to building our understanding of world politics.
  • To develop students' ability to think and reflect critically and to understand the role of perspective in how we see and interpret events.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Develop analytical and critical skills, necessary for the application of theory to empirical examples, in order to determine, and account for, the manner, in which actors at political and societal levels function in the contemporary world. K
002 Identify and evaluate the major IR theories and their contribution to understanding of world politics, as well as the criticisms to these theories. K
003 Demonstrate understanding of how and why the IR discipline has developed as it has. K
004 Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources concerning relevant IR theories to construct a reasoned argument. CP
005 Develop students' research, writing and presentation skills. PT
006 Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management. T
007 Introduce students to the multitude of viewpoints of international relations and nurture their appreciation for the world around them and beyond their immediate context KCT
008 Develop an ability to use theoretical perspectives to analyse real-life scenarios related to sustainability issues KC
009 Utilise independent judgment to critically engage with the given list of readings and the evidence that the students collect for their coursework CPT
010 Build on knowledge and understanding throughout the module to apply and draw together different international relations theories in assessing real situations KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

In this module, lectures will introduce international relations theories with reference to key texts and topics. In seminars, students will undertake interactive exercises such as group discussions in order to demonstrate the application of theory to real situations, thereby building confidence and communication skills. 

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Build on students’ existing knowledge gained through in particular POL 1013 by developing their understanding of IR theories. This is done through an interactive lecture in which students are able to engage with the subject content as well as seminar activities. The latter are there to ensure that students are connecting with the topic through student-led discussion. Throughout the module students will use the unique Virtual Learning Environment at Surrey (SurreyLearn) to navigate the module content.

Through seminars, students will develop resilience by sharing their ideas with their peers in the classroom and by learning from each other’s experiences.

Moreover, SurreyLearn, accompanied by MS Teams channels, will help students work together, share their experiences, and provide support to each other.  

The learning and teaching methods include: 

1 hour lecture per week x 11 weeks 

1 hour seminar per week including class discussion x 11 weeks 

  • Additional captured content and guided learning provided on SurreyLearn 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL2030

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Public Affairs MPA 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
International Relations BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.