nl en

Introduction to International Relations - block 4


Admission requirements

There are no prerequisites for this course. Introduction to International Relations gives entry to the higher level courses in World Politics.


This course introduces students to the main issues in International Relations. The aim is to provide students with basic knowledge about the two dominant patterns of behaviour in International Relations: conflict and cooperation. Specific historical and contemporary issues are studied from these perspectives. The course provides an introductory overview of the major approaches and theories of International Relations, such as realism, liberalism and social constructivism. Since globalisation is an important factor in international politics, due attention is given to the role of non-state actors like international governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, and multinational corporations.

Course objectives

In this course, students will learn valuable theoretical, methodological and analytical skills enabling them to interpret and understand key issues in the international politics. By the end of the course each student is expected to have acquired the following skills and knowledge:

Understanding of International Politics

  • Critically identify and discuss key issues surrounding the history and development of international politics;

  • A critical awareness of the key debates concerning international politics;

  • Identify and critically evaluate key issues pertaining to international politics.

Knowledge of International Relations Theories

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of International Relations Theory

  • Critically reflect upon key theories and concepts of International Relations Theory using a variety of case studies related to contemporary international politics;

  • Apply conceptual tools to analyse key events and processes in contemporary international politics.

Intellectual Skills

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts on International Relations, and participate in class debates;

  • Display the confidence to present their arguments in relevant academic contexts (seminars, workshops, conferences) to other students of world politics.


Please see the LUC website:

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. During the course of the seminar students are expected to take part in both large and small group discussions; participate in seminar discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The role of the instructor is to ensure the efficient running of the discussion. Each seminar has a ‘required reading’ list that must be read in advance of each seminar. Students are also recommended to read some of the items listed under ‘suggested reading’ prior to each seminar and use the extended list as a starting point in their preparation for essay writing.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through Presentation and Seminar Performance (25% of final grade for Presentation, 15% of final grade for Seminar Performance);
    Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through Formal exam (30% of final grade): due in Session 14
  3. Individual engagement with course readings: assessed in Essay (3,000 words; 30% of final grade): due Week 8 Friday at 23:59


This course is supported by a BlackBoard site

Reading list

  • Baylis, John, Steve Smith, Patricia Owens (2010) The Globalization of World Politics: an Introduction to International Relations – 5th edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

  • The acquisition of the book is recommended but not compulsory. Readings outside of the textbook above will be provided electronically through blackboard.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Block 1 (2011/2):

Dr. Francesco Ragazzi
Institute of Political Science, Leiden University

Block 2 and 4 (2011/2):

Dr. Yih-Jye Hwang
Leiden University College The Hague, Leiden University

Weekly Overview

Session 1: Introduction to the Course: Defining International Politics
Session 2: The Idea of ‘International Society’ and the Birth of the Contemporary International Society
Session 3: The Expansion of International Society: Colonialism and Imperialism
Session 4: Two World Wars
Session 5: The Cold War between the Superpowers
Session 6: Competing Visions of the Post-Cold War Order: ‘The End of History’ vs. ‘A Clash of Civilisations’
Session 7: International Politics in the Age of Terrorism
Session 8: Theorising International Politics – Classical Realism
Session 9: Theorising International Politics – Neo-Realism
Session 10: Theorising International Politics – Liberalism
Session 11: Theorising International Politics – The English School
Session 12: Theorising International Politics – Post-positivist approaches to International Relations
Session 13: Theorising International Politics – Constructivism
Session 14: Formal exam