Understanding World Politics: a Critical Overview of Core Issues and Theories

Dr Zeynep Kaya

See this course profiled on the PKP 2015 blog!

The world seems to have become increasingly complex. Whereas before, at least theoretically, power and interest may have explained why wars occurred or why some states embarked on campaigns of territorial expansion, understanding the world nowadays requires an analysis of new actors, new ideas, and new dynamics that have merged the local with the global. This course embraces such complexity, studying the main structures, actors, dynamics, and processes that define world politics today, taking into account multiple and competing explanations. The course will first offer an introduction to the field of International Relations (IR), focusing on some of the key questions facing scholars and policy makers and looking at how IR has been transformed as the world has changed. Next, we will turn to studying some of the most pressing international issues facing the world today, including war, global power shifts, democracy promotion, intervention, development, non-state actors, security, global inequality and terrorism. We will address questions such as: Is US power in decline? Are wars and poverty a reflection of the structure of power in world politics? Do human rights norms and normative values shape state behaviour? Do non-state actors, such as multinational corporations and terrorist groups, set the international political agenda in any meaningful way? These will be analysed through different theoretical lenses including realism, liberalism, constructivism, marxism and feminism.

Intended Audience

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in international politics, those who wish to develop a better understanding of the world today, anyone who is seeking a stronger background for their degrees or careers which require a grasp of contemporary world politics. It would suit those inside and outside the Social Sciences by broadening their conceptual understanding of world politics and providing them with new analytical tools.

Previous Knowledge

No prior knowledge of either International Relations or International Politics is assumed or required.

Transferable Knowledge and Skills

This course will develop critical analysis, an understanding of world affairs and the ability to capture this understanding and analysis both on paper and verbally.