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Transnational Politics




Admission requirements


Course description

The study of politics beyond the domestic political arena has traditionally been focused on relations between states. This course, by contrast, explores contemporary political movements and issues that transcend the boundaries of nation-states and formal intergovernmental relations. The course will focus primarily on non-state actors and institutions such as classes, diaspora networks, social and religious movements, and transnational NGOs. We will begin by exploring the historical background to contemporary transnational politics, and specifically the increasing interconnectedness of human societies over the past 500 years. We then explore a series of theoretical approaches that offer different lenses through which to view politics beyond the state, including Marxism, feminism, green theory, post-colonialism, and normative theory. The final section of the course examines how non-state actors and institutions are shaping world politics through their engagement with issues such as global economic inequality, human rights, environmental change, religious difference, migration, and regional integration. Although the course concentrates on non-state actors, the international states system will loom large in our explorations, appearing to transnational actors as variously a constraint on their activity, a set of powers to be influenced, and a problem to be solved.

Weekly overview

Session 1: Introduction
Session 2: History I: The Age of Exploration, Colonial Expansion and Pax Britannica
Session 3: History II: Pax Americana to the Twenty-First Century
Session 4: Normative IR Theory
Session 5: Marxism
Session 6: Feminism
Session 7: Post-colonialism / Post-structuralism
Session 8: Green Theory
Session 9: Regional Integration
Session 10: Global Economic Inequality
Session 11: Environmental Change
Session 12: Human Rights
Session 13: Transnational Politics of Religion
Session 14: Migration and Refugees

Learning objectives

The module is aims to provide a critical examination of transnational politics. In successfully completing this course, you will:

  • Understand the historical background to the contemporary transnational politics.

  • Develop a basic knowledge of the major theoretical approaches to the study of transnational political and social movements in world politics.

  • Understand the key concepts relating to transnational politics, and be able to apply them in critical analysis of important events and processes.

  • Demonstrate understanding of the agendas and strategies of important non-state actors and institutions.

  • Produce a well-argued political essay.

  • Improve your oral presentation skills and your ability to communicate arguments to other students.

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.


Four elements of coursework constitute the final mark for the course:

  • Participation 15%

  • Presentation 25%

  • Formal Exam 30%

  • Final paper (2,500 words) 30%

Compulsory literature

Steger, M B (2013) Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: OUP, 3rd edition

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steven Smith (2013) International Relations Theories – Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press