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Industrialization, Revolution and Geopolitics: the making of the modern world order


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.


The purpose of this course is to give students a critical historical and theoretical perspective on the formation of the modern international system. We shall discuss four key and interrelated themes, each of which is central to problematizing and historicizing the making of the modern world order: capitalism, industrialization, revolution and war.

Karl Polanyi writes that capitalism stands for a ‘particular rupture’ in human history, a break marked by fundamental changes in the ‘nature’ of society and economy. Similarly, industrialization, according to Eric Hobsbawm, ‘marks the most fundamental transformation of human life in the history of the world recorded in written documents.’ Therefore, for International Relations (IR), the importance of capitalism and industrialization lies not just in the emergence of new technologies for war-making and state-making, but also in the profound social and international transformations, dislocations and rebellions which capitalism and industrialization brought about. In this regard, Fred Halliday is certainly right in arguing that revolutions are one of the main engines of modern international transformation. In short, capitalism, industrialization, revolutions and wars have impacted the origins and expansion of the modern international order in unprecedented ways, hence central to a deeper understanding of the IR’s very subject matter, the ‘international’.

The course will therefore promote a critical appreciation of social forces in the historical and contemporary making of the international state system. Special attention will be paid to the question/analysis of a) capitalism’s origins and expansion b) French Revolution and its contradictory socio-economic legacy on the continent and beyond c) late 19th and early 20th century revolutions and modernization reforms in and outside of the West d) Pax Britannica, Hegemony and 19th century world order e) Nazism, capitalism and geopolitics f) the Cold War and ‘embedded’ liberalism e) the ‘developmental state’ f) Neoliberalism, geopolitics and the Arab Spring g) the rise of China and the possibility of a post-American world order h) global capitalism and its alternatives

Course objectives

To be announced


The timetable is available on the website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

To be announced

Assessment method


  • Paper


To be announced


To be announced

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for this course

Reading list

To be announced


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Contact: Dr. E. Duzgun