Intro International Relations | Department of International Relations and Governance Studies

Intro International Relations

Course Outline
Title, code and semester: Introduction to International Relations (IRG206; Monsoon 2017)

This course provides an in-depth introduction to international relations within the framework of the discipline of International Relations (IR). It covers concepts and theories that help understand and explain international politics. It outlines two competing yet intersecting histories of modern international relations – one emerging from the West, the other from the Non-West. Against this background, an introduction to the international system is provided, which facilitates discussions of key international actors and contemporary issue areas. The course thus adopts a five-fold approach to introducing the field’s key elements. The increasing salience of international affairs on individuals and societies necessitates a systematic appreciation of this dimension of human affairs, and the course provides the tools for this purpose. On opting for this course, students are expected to read and write extensively and take keen interest in the world beyond the boundaries of their society/state.
Course Aims
1. To provide students with an in-depth introduction to the key elements in the study of international affairs and familiarization with the field of International Relations (IR).
2. To train students to grasp the complexities of international relations with pertinent case studies and empirical examples, and to enable them to think conceptually and systematically about the dynamics of contemporary world politics.
3. To build in students the capacity to write conceptually and lucidly about foreign policy and international affairs.
4. To develop in students a theory-based problem-solving attitude towards international issues with a view to further studies and onwards to careers in academia, media, policy world and public affairs.
Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Claim familiarity with the field of IR.
2. Understand the complexities underpinning international relations and how the international shapes significant events such as war and revolution as well as the everyday life of individuals and societies. They should also be able to appreciate, with the help of examples from India and elsewhere, the constraints and opportunities that mark a country’s international conduct.
3. Differentiate between domestic affairs and international politics, as well as understand how the two shape each other.
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4. Analyse international relations and write knowledgably and systematically about them with a view to practical application.
Course Expectations
1. Attendance and class participation: a minimum of 75 percent attendance is required for students to appear for the final exam. Active participation in the class is very desirable as it enhances understanding and because it is a component of your overall evaluation. (Please note that attendance and class participation carry 10 marks of the total 100.)
2. Reading of essential material is compulsory. Lack of preparation affects the progress of the course and the rhythm of classroom discussions. I will provide the essential reading material.
Assessment for this course will be continuous and will comprise the following:
1. Attendance and class participation – 10 marks
2. Mid-semester exam – 20 marks
3. End-semester exam – 30 marks
4. Review essay/term paper – 20 marks
5. Case studies (2 of 10 marks each) – 20 marks

Please note:
1. For no. 4 above, students can select 2-3 books on a theme/topic for a review essay or a topic for a term paper. The word length is 2500-3000.
2. Students can submit up to three case studies, of up to 1400 words each, of which the two best will be considered for grading. Case studies must be based on a course topic and must be designed in consultation with me.
3. Handwritten submissions are necessary for case studies; review essay/term paper submission can be typed. All submissions should be made in hard copy.
4. Students are expected to not plagiarise as it is a crime in academia with serious professional consequences. Please consult me if you are unsure about any aspect of plagiarism.
Deadlines: Review essay/term paper is due on 7 November 2017. Case study no. 1 is due on 12 September 2017 and no. 2 on 5 October 2017. Case study no. 3 (optional) can be turned in on any date between 5 October and 7 November 2017. Mid- and end-semester exams will happen on dates within the slots marked in the university’s academic calendar. Deadlines are non-negotiable and late submission will result in grade loss. In case you are unable to submit an assignment on time for legitimate reasons (such as medical, personal emergency, or university duty), delayed submission will be considered against documentary/other suitable evidence.
Curriculum Content
1. Concepts and theories – the international and cognate concepts of the political, the global and the world; anarchy and multiplicity as bases of the international; levels of analysis; Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Constructivism, Postcolonialism, and Feminism as theoretical lenses.
2. Histories – the intertwined histories of modern international relations: western and non-western. Expansion of international society or colonization of the world?
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3. The international system – conceptualizations of the international system; system effects on international politics and domestic affairs; constraints and opportunities in state behaviour.
4. Actors – how do states, great powers and empires, international and transnational organizations, individuals (statespersons, diplomats, world leaders) act upon and produce international relations?
5. Issues – western decline and Asian rise; terrorism; crisis of liberal democracies; globalization and nationalism; environmental breakdown; Asian connectivity projects; crisis of diplomacy
Week 1 1 August 2017 – Introduction to IR; key concepts
3 August 2017 – Key concepts continued
Week 2 8 August 2017 – Key concepts continued
10 August 2017 – What is a theory? Its features, utility and limitations. Theories of IR introduced: many and rival theories; mainstream and critical theories
Week 3 17 August 2017 – Realism – classical
Week 4 22 August 2017 – Realism – structural
24 August 2017 – Realism – structural
Week 5 29 August 2017 – Liberalism – classical
31 August 2017 – Liberalism – structural
Week 6 5 September 2017 – Constructivism
7 September 2017 – Marxism
Week 7 12 September 2017 – Feminism
14 September 2017 – Postcolonialism
Week 8 19 September 2017 – Histories of international relations – western
21 September 2017 – Histories of international relations – non-western (Asian)
Week 9 28 September 2017 – The international system – conceptions and workings
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Week 10 3 October 2017 – The international system – American and Chinese visions of world order
5 October 2017 – Actors – states: types (neutral, buffer, pariah, failed, isolated, multilateral, unilateral, failing, honest broker) and goals (survival, security, dominance/hegemony, prestige/status)
Week 11
10 October 2017 – great powers (status quo and revisionists) and empires (pre-modern and modern; formal and informal)
12 October 2017 – Actors – international and transnational organizations and world leaders
Week 12
24 October 2017 – Issues – global power transition: western decline and Asian rise
26 October 2017 – Issues – contemporary international politics: Asia and the West compared; the two Asian theatres
Week 13 31 October 2017 – Issues – the global crisis of liberal democracies
2 November 2017 – Issues – global terrorism
Week 14 7 November 2017 – Issues – global terrorism
9 November 2017 – Issues – globalization and nationalism
Week 15 14 November 2017 – Issues – globalization and nationalism; environmental breakdown
16 November 2017 – Issues – Asian connectivity projects
Week 16 21 November 2017 – Issues – diplomacy in crisis
23 November 2017 – Discussion – IR and the real world
Week 17 28 November 2017 – Revision
Reading list
Although any one of the books in the list below will give you a fair idea of the field, a well-rounded perspective will come through a reading of them all. So feel free to devour them from end to end. From the point of view of the course, however, we shall be using select chapters from these books for several of the topics mentioned above. I will make these chapters available well in advance and expect you to read them in preparation to the class. For topics not covered in these books, I will supply the material separately, and those would be either journal articles or
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handouts prepared by me. I have kept the article list open so that I can share new research that is accessibly written. Nevertheless, some of the key articles are listed below.
Baylis, John and Steve Smith. 2014. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, International Sixth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chimni, Bhupinder S. and Mallavarapu Siddharth (eds.). 2012. International Relations: Perspectives for the Global South. Delhi: Dorling Kindersley (Pearson).
Jackson, Robert and Georg Sorensen. 2010. Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches. New York: Oxford University Press.
Mingst, Karen A. and Ivan A. Arreguin-Toft. 2017. Essentials of International Relations, 7th edition. New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company.
Rosenau, James N. and Mary Durfee. 2000. “The Need for Theory” in Thinking Theory Thoroughly: Coherent Approaches to an Incoherent World. Boulder: Westview Press.
Rosenau, James N. 1980. “Thinking Theory Thoroughly” in The Scientific Study of Foreign Policy, London: Frances Pinter, pp.19-31.
Snyder, Jack. 2004. “One World, Rival Theories.” Foreign Policy, 145, pp.53-62.
Sutch, Peter and Juanita Elias. 2007. International Relations: The Basics. Oxon: Routledge.
Walt, Stephen M. 1998. “International Relations: One World, Many Theories.” Foreign Policy, 110, pp.29-32+34-36.
Wilkinson, Paul. 2007. International Relations: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Highly recommended
Carr, E.H. 2001. The Twenty Years’ Crisis: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. First published in 1939. New York: Perennial.
I highly recommend this text as it is like no other in the field of IR. It laid the foundation of IR by presenting a dazzling account of the problems, patterns and dynamics of international relations. A lively read that will give you profit and pleasure. Very suitable for the review essay assignment.
Reus-Smit, Christian and Duncan Snidal. 2010. The Oxford Handbook of International Relations. New York: Oxford University Press.
A text that brings together all the elements in the field. Should your interest in IR take deep roots, go for this text. You will not regret the time spent on reading it.
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IR classics
Aron, Raymond. 2003. Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Bull, Hedley. 2002. The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Enloe, Cynthia. 1990. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Mearsheimer, John J. 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
Morgenthau, Hans J. 1985. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. First published in 1948. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Niebuhr, Reinhold. 1932. Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics. London and New York: Continuum.
Waltz, Kenneth N. 1979. Theory of International Politics. Reading, Mass: Addison Wesley.
Reference works
Diez, Thomas et al. 2011. Key Concepts in International Relations. New Delhi: SAGE Publications.
Evans, Graham and Jeffrey Newnham. 1998. Dictionary of International Relations. London: Penguin.
Griffiths, Martin and Terry O’Callaghan. 2002. International Relations: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge.

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