• Offered by Department of International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject International Relations
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

From where do we get our ideas about the rights and duties of states, global justice, trade, immigration, diplomacy, war, sovereignty, and empire? How have these ideas been used and abused in the past? And what useful ideas have we forgotten that may be worth excavating and inserting into contemporary debates about international relations? This courses addresses these questions by examining Western thinking about international relations (broadly defined) from the Ancient Greeks through the Romans, Medieval theologians, early modern lawyers and philosophers, Enlightenment theorists, to the beginning of the twentieth century. (As such it complements International Relations Theory INTR8011, which begins in 1919.) In each seminar we will consider the writings of past thinkers in their historical contexts, examining the particular crises and opportunities to which they were responding and the debates in which they were engaged, and we will also consider how their ideas may be of use to us today as we deal with our own crises and opportunities and engage in our own debates about international relations. Crucially, this may be the only course that you ever take where you will be given props for use in class discussions, including the cowbell of anachronism, the flag of unwitting imperialism, and the veil of ignorance!

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the emergence of Western international thought.
2. understand the uses and abuses of traditions of thought both by other historical thinkers and in the modern period.
3. critically evaluate the significance of these traditions for contemporary debate.

Other Information

Delivery Mode:

The course is conducted through seminars with an emphasis on interactive teaching aimed at engaging all students in active participation.

Indicative Assessment

Textual analysis - 1,500 words
Contextual analysis - 1,500 words
Research essay - 2,500 words

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


This course will be taught intensively over six days across the two week period. It will be crucial that students read the required readings for at least the first four seminars prior to the first day of the course. Otherwise they will likely struggle to keep up with reading and other requirements through across the two weeks. This is a reading based course and, given that it is conducted in intense format, will require students to make the necessary commitment in terms of time and preparation.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3252
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4638
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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