MA International Relations (Standard)

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Critical Approaches in International Politics

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI70412
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course develops students' abilities to think critically about key themes in international politics. It builds on the introduction to the discipline of International Relations provided by The Graduate Seminar in International Relations Theory. The aim is to introduce students to what it means to think critically about international politics as well as the work of key critical thinkers. This course is not simply a survey of critical thinkers, but rather a bridge between the Graduate Seminar in International Relations Theory and the MA Dissertation, examining the way in which key thinkers have thought critically about topics in international relations and encouraging students to translate these insights and provocations into their own research on international politics.  

The course combines three aims:  

1. To foster the ability to think critically about international politics  

2. To understand key concepts in international politics and key intellectual figures behind them (such as Foucault, Butler, Derrida, Fanon, Lacan, Campbell, Ranciere)  

3. To apply critical thinking to empirical issues in international politics.  

This course will be a core course for the MA in International Politics (both research and taught routes).  

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly contact hours will consist of one two-hour seminar each week.

Knowledge and understanding

Advanced level of understanding and knowledge of the key debates and theoretical positions within international politics, and how theories relate to the analytical approaches selected.

Intellectual skills

Display an ability to engage in thinking and reasoning; an ability to analyse and critically engage with other people’s position; and to work independently to identify appropriate further reading.

Practical skills

Literature searches and critical reading.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Advanced cognitive and communicative skills; the ability to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form; the ability to pursue an advanced level of independent learning and to show critical judgement.

Assessment methods

Short Essay 1050 Words (35%) 

Long essay. 1950 words (65%) 


Recommended reading


  • Aradau, C, Huysmans, J Neal, A and Voelkner, N eds., Critical Security Methods: New Frameworks for Analysis (London: Routledge, 2015)
  • Edkins, Jenny and Nick Vaughan-Williams (eds.) Critical Theorists and International Relations (London: Routledge 2009)
  • Shapiro, J. Michael, Studies in Trans-disciplinary Method: After the Aesthetic Turn (London: Routledge, 2012)
  • Salter, Mark and Mutlu, Can E, eds., Research Methods in Critical Security Studies (London: Routledge, 2013)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andreja Zevnik Unit coordinator
Sabrina Villenave Unit coordinator

Additional notes


This course will be a core course for the MA in International Politics (both research and taught routes).



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