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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2021/2022

The Theory of International Relations

Type: Compulsory course (Advertising and Public Relations)
Area of studies: Advertising and Public Relations
When: 4 year, 2 module
Mode of studies: distance learning
Open to: students of one campus
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


This course aims to familiarize students with the basic theories, history, and philosophy of international relations. This course deals with the leading theories of international relations such as realism, liberalism, marxism, and constructivism and covers such historical topics as World War I, World War II, the Cold War. Students will have the opportunity to assess the main stages in developing the international relations, theoretical approaches, and concepts of international relations prevailing at each historical stage and examine the major historical events from different theoretical perspectives. This course will be held in a blended format, including one introduction lecture, the online-course «Understanding International Relations Theory» on the Coursera platform, two seminar classes, essay and final exam.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course aims to initiate a systematic and holistic view on the basic theoretical approaches to international relations as a discipline, their historical evolution and influence as well as to form a systemic view on the specificity of key global political and economic processes through the prism of IR theory.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Students will have a basic understanding of realism, liberalism, marxism, constructivism, and neo theories as major theoretical paradigms of international relations in the US and the West: By studying historical cases such as WWI, WWII, the Cold War, etc., students will develop an interest in history. By combining theory, history, and philosophy, students will develop analytical and debating skills that will enable them to succeed in whatever they do
  • By reading Thucydides, Morgenthau and other realist scholars students would have a fairly good idea as to how realists understand the world and what lessons they are trying to teach the world
  • Students will be able to develop a comprehensive view on democracy and liberal values from different IR theories perspective.
  • Students will be exposed to Marx’s idea of communism and make a judgment as to what would be our best economic system.
  • Students will be able to examine the main causes of WWI, WWII and the Cold War.
  • Students will be able to examine the flaws of the traditional explanations for the end of the Cold War
  • Students will be able to discuss the great power rivalry though the prism of main IR theories.
  • Students will have a basic understanding of Copenhagen school of IR, namely securitizations theory, as well as security communities theory of Karl Deutsch
  • Students will have a basic understanding of such burning issues in IR theory as anarchic politics, ethical questions, and International Politics, three views of the role of morality.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • An Overview of the course.
    The first week is the introduction to the IR course. This session deals with the description of IR, major trends in IR and categories of analysis in IR, scope and limitations of IR theory
  • Birth of the science and classical tradition
    The module aims to introduce the ancient roots of modern IR theories. Starting from Thucydides and his "History of Peloponnesian War", the lecture teaches the student's further intellectual development of the realist paradigm of international relations: Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the creation of the Treaty of Westphalia in many respects became a foundation of the modern international politics.
  • Origins of liberalism
    The lecture introduces the students to the second grand paradigm of international relations: liberalism. What if international politics is not a static world of fights and survival but a permanent movement to a better world? The origins of the new approach lie in the age of Enlightenment and even earlier - in the very core ideas of Christianity.
  • The beginning: the World Wars and genesis of the IR science
    From the very beginning, the development of political thought was hugely stimulated by wars. In the first half of the XX century, the question of war and peace became critical for the survival of our civilization. The module introduces the great debates between the two grand paradigms during the World Wars and explains how the first scientific theories emerged from these debates.
  • Academic writing – consultation
    This session will focus on academic writing. As a result, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of a research hypothesis, research question, the relevance of the work, learn to work with sources and literature, and integrate empirical data into a theoretical framework
  • Kenneth Waltz and structural theory
    The Cold War became a new intellectual challenge for the IR thinkers. How to survive in the nuclear age? The module introduces the realist answer, which took a form of the structural realism.
  • Neoliberalism: the liberal paradigm after the WWII
    The module aims to teach the evolution of the liberal paradigm during the Cold War. Failed to build up an "eternal peace" after the French Revolution and after WWI, liberalism proposes a new, even more comprehensive theory to make a new attempt.
  • Marxism and neo-marxism
    While the two classical paradigms pass through great debates, Marxism proposes a fundamentally different world picture. Welcome to the world of class struggle and imperialist wars: a comprehensive study of economic factors, which drive world politics will challenge the fundamental assumptions of realism and liberalism.
  • Critical IR theories (constructivism, postmodernism, feminism)
    The end of the Cold War, which any classical theory has never predicted, put a question about their legitimacy and broke up fundamental academic debates. The module introduces the so-called critical theories and their interpretation of the critical problems of world politics.
  • Actors in International Relations
    The module focuses on one of the fundamental theoretical problems in IR science: who is an actor of international politics? While some theories assume that only states have enough capabilities to be actors in IR, some concepts assume that even an individual can play an important role. The module introduces the students to these critical debates.
  • Power in International Relations
    Power is the fundamental category of political science. What is power in IR, and how can we classify it? What is the balance of power concept? Which state is the most powerful in the world, and can a non-state actor dominate world politics? The module gives answers to these and other questions relating to the topic.
  • Global governance
    Is it possible to establish a world government? Will it lead to "eternal peace"? These questions are essential to understand the key patterns and contradictions, which drive modern international politics.
  • Back to classics: the realist paradigm in the XXI century
    The most ancient concept emerges again in the XXI century: with new conflicts, hybrid wars and power struggle between the key states realism seems to be the best to explain international politics. Does it mean that the mankind never changes and the modern world is not so different from the world of Thucydides? Or the realist theories just adapt themselves to the modern world?
  • Russia as a realist power
    Russian foreign policy seems to be a mystery for many observers. The module proposes a realist interpretation of the Russian actions within the international system. But does it give all-out explanations?
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-class Participation
  • non-blocking Essay
    The percentage of originality in the essay should be at least 80%. Please check out what is considered plagiarism here https://www.hse.ru/data/2015/09/08/1088822413/ethics_thesis.pdf
  • non-blocking Final Exam
    The examination is supposed to be carried out in a written form based on the course materials. The exam is conducted on the Socrative platform (https://socrative.com/) and parallel connecting to the Zoom platform (https://zoom.us/). Students must join Zoom conference 10 minutes before the exam begins (Zoom platform). Next, the examiners send the Socrative room number to the Zoom chat, after which the students join the Socrative platform and commit to completing the tests. Information with the date and time of the exam will be sent out by the teachers of the course to the students corporate mail. Examination time - 2 academic hours (1 hour 20 minutes). Technical requirements for the exam: camera on, microphone off, Zoom and Socrative support. To participate in the exam, the student is obliged: to put his/her photo and real first name and last name on the profile, appear for the exam according to the exact schedule, throughout the exam a student has to keep the camera turned on and the sound turned off. During the exam, students are forbidden to: turn off the camera, use notes and tips. In case of technical malfunctions, the student is obliged to immediately notify the teacher. A short-term communication disruption during the exam is considered a communication disruption of less than a minute. Long-term communication disruption during the exam is considered a violation of a minute or more. In case of a long-term communication failure, the student cannot continue to participate in the exam.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.5 * Essay + 0.4 * Final Exam + 0.1 * In-class Participation


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Cristol, J. (2009). Morgenthau vs. Morgenthau? “The Six Principles of Political Realism” in Context. American Foreign Policy Interests, 31(4), 238–244. https://doi.org/10.1080/10803920903136247
  • Hamilton, J. B., & Fukuyama, F. (2018). The End of History and the Last Man. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.FFDEB7F0
  • Hamnett, C. (2018). A world turned upside down: the rise of China and the relative economic decline of the West. Area Development & Policy, 3(2), 223–240. https://doi.org/10.1080/23792949.2018.1439392
  • Lieber, K. A. (2007). The New History of World War I and What It Means for International Relations Theory. International Security, 32(2), 155–191. https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.2007.32.2.155
  • Nye, J. S. . (DE-588)128376856, (DE-627)372622542, (DE-576)162411480, aut. (2009). Understanding international conflicts an introduction to theory and history Joseph S. Nye.
  • Sutter, R. (2010). Assessing China’s Rise and US Leadership in Asia—growing maturity and balance. Journal of Contemporary China, 19(65), 591–604. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670561003666186
  • Титаренко, Л. Г. (2018). Марксизм, неомарксизм и постсоветская модернизация ; Marxism, neo-Marxism and post-soviet modernization / L. G. Titarenko.
  • Яснитский, Н. А. (2019). Уильям Митфорд О Причинах Пелопонесской Войны. Proceedings of Kazan University. Humanities Series / Uchenye Zapiski Kazanskogo Universiteta. Seriya Gumanitarnye Nauki, 161(2/3), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.26907/2541-7738.2019.2-3.34-42

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Brooks, S. G., & Wohlforth, W. C. (2007). Clarifying the End of Cold War Debate. Cold War History, 7(3), 447. https://doi.org/10.1080/14682740701474907
  • Cohen, D. (2006). War, Moderation, and Revenge in Thucydides. Journal of Military Ethics, 5(4), 270–289. https://doi.org/10.1080/15027570601081127
  • Datta Gupta, S. (2012). Marxism in Dark Times : Select Essays for the New Century. Anthem Press India.
  • Gartzke, E., & Lupu, Y. (2012). Trading on Preconceptions. International Security, 36(4), 115–150. https://doi.org/10.1162/ISEC_a_00078
  • Jeffrey Haynes. (2019). From Huntington to Trump : Thirty Years of the Clash of Civilizations. Lexington Books.
  • Korab-Karpowicz, W. J. (2006). How International Relations Theorists Can Benefit by Reading Thucydides. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.B0893F4B
  • Kupchan, C. A., & Kupchan, C. A. (1995). The promise of collective security. International Security, 20(1), 52. https://doi.org/10.2307/2539215
  • Milton Friedman, & Anna Jacobson Schwartz. (1971). A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960. Princeton University Press.
  • Monten, J. (2006). Thucydides and Modern Realism. International Studies Quarterly, 50(1), 3–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2478.2006.00390.x
  • Painter, D. (2006). A Partial History of the Cold War. Cold War History, 6(4), 527. https://doi.org/10.1080/14682740600979295
  • Perez Zagorin. (2009). Thucydides : An Introduction for the Common Reader. Princeton University Press.
  • St. Louis University. (2003). Universitas - Issue 30.1 (Fall 2003) ; Universitas: the magazine of Saint Louis University. LD4817 .S52 U5.
  • Zubok, V. M. (2002). Gorbachev and the End of the Cold War: Perspectives on History and Personality. Cold War History, 2(2), 61. https://doi.org/10.1080/713999954
  • Храмцов, К. (2015). Мировые Войны Xx Века И Их Влияние На Развитие Доктрины Освобождения От Исполнения Обязательств Вследствие Существенного Изменения Обстоятельств.
  • Хубулава Н.М. (n.d.). Россия как Великая держава.