This course is available through clearing

If you already have your exam results, meet the entry requirements and hold no offers, then you can apply to this course now.

Contact the admissions team

If you're waiting for your results, then sign up to our clearing alerts to get all the information you need ahead of results day.

Sign up now

BA Politics and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
Questions About International Politics

Unit code POLI20521
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course will introduce and discuss a series of questions about international politics. The precise set of questions to be covered will be decided closer to the time. They will be designed to explore a range of relevant practices (e.g. war, terrorism, environmental protection) and concepts (e.g. power, state sovereignty, identity, gender, race).

Indicative schedule:

1) Introduction
2) How do we begin to think about the world?
3) Who do we think we are?
4) Why do we obey?
5) How do we find out what is going on in the world?
6) What makes the world dangerous?
7) What can we do to stop people harming others?
8) Why are some people better off than others?
9) What happens if we don't think in human terms?
10) Conclusion: How can we change the world?


There are many significant questions that intrigue students of international politics.  This course aims to provide students with the opportunity to explore such questions in an analytically sophisticated way.  It will do so by drawing on the ways in which scholars have already thought about these questions and examining the strengths and weaknesses of their responses.  It will relate scholars’ responses to actual practices of international politics, thereby demonstrating opportunities to think critically not only about scholars’ analyses, but also the practices of international politics themselves.  More specifically, the course will relate key questions covered in the module to the following four sets of themes:


1) power/knowledge/truth

2) language/representation

3) identity/difference/subjectivity

4) governance/resistance


This course unit will show how such questions can and have been tackled, but will also stress that the important questions of international politics always remain open to an extent and are re-formulated, re-examined and challenged by each new generation of students. In this way, the course is aimed at getting students to think critically about international politics in two senses of the term. The first seeks to develop a broad set of critical thinking skills necessary for interrogating and revealing the unquestioned assumptions that implicitly inform our own individual worldviews. The second is more particular to IR as a discipline and will familiarize students with critical thinking in IR theory by thinking through a number of ‘sacred cows’ in international politics – the state, military power, and the inevitability of violence and exclusion, for example. In this vein, the course will aim to dislodge what are often taken as ‘givens’ and so-called ‘common sense’ understandings of international politics. 


Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to critically ask questions about international politics.
  • Demonstrate the ability to think critically about questions, ways of tackling them and the implications of different strategies for doing so.
  • Outline and discuss strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical positions in relation to international politics.
  • Articulate their own views on how to ask questions about international politics with recourse to (and sometimes rejection of) the literature covered in the course.

Teaching and learning methods

A variety of learning methods are used in the course, which include:

·         Lectures and tutorials;

·         Whole group, small group and individual teaching and learning;

·         Student-led and tutor-led sessions;

·         Discussion-based and knowledge-based classes.

Teaching and learning methods are designed to:

·         Meet the aims and objectives of the course and degree programme;

·         Foster knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject;

·         Stimulate engagement and ownership of the learning process;

·         Encourage deep learning by students;

·         Develop a strong knowledge base of the course material through a wide range of methods including critical reading of a wide range of texts;

·         Foster independent research using both primary and secondary sources;

·         Enable seminar-based discussion for communicating ideas and presenting ideas in a variety of formats;

·         Take proactive account of the different circumstances and needs of students, facilitating wider participation.

Employability skills

See Additional Notes at the end

Assessment methods


Lecture Group Work (10% of total, 2 x 5%)

1,750 word Critical Reflection (25% of total mark)

3,750 word Essay (55% of total mark)

Tutorial Participation (10% of total mark)

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss (eds.), Global Politics: A New Introduction (London: Routledge 2008).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Cristina Masters Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Employability skills


·         Gather, organise and deploy analytical evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources;

·         Construct reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement;

·         Reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback.

·         Critically analyse and disseminate information.

·         Manage their own learning self-critically.

·         Recognise the importance of explicit referencing and the ethical requirements of study, in particular critical and reflective use of information and communications technology in the learning process.

·         Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing. Employers require Politics and International Relations graduates to be able to communicate ideas effectively to a varied audience. This ability to translate complex ideas to a wide audience is a particularly valued skill!

·         Use communication and information technology, including audiovisual technology, for the retrieval and presentation of information.

·         Progress through the degree programme to become mature, independent learners who can demonstrate initiative, self-organisation and time management attributes. The ability to identify opportunites for continuous learning and development, leading to future continuous professional development, is particularly valued by employers.

·         Collaborate with others to achieve commom goals through, for example group work, group projects, group presentations. Employers regard collaboration and the indentification of common goals highly.

Return to course details