• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

The central objective of this course is to extend students’ grasp of the purpose and application of theoretical paradigms in international relations. Theories provide frameworks to understand the behaviour of actors in a complex and dynamic global environment. Distinct theoretical paradigms make central assumptions about primary factors that drive human action with implications for how we understand, explain, and predict issues and interactions in the international arena. Such factors range from scarcity and a drive for control (e.g., classical realism, neorealism, game theory); to a drive to cooperate for absolute gains (e.g., neoliberal institutionalism, liberalism), constructed identities based on historically-contingent meanings and values (e.g., constructivism), and unequal power relations that underpin a drive for autonomy, agency, and empowerment. (e.g., critical theories, feminist theory). The course teaches all theoretical paradigms with a focus on how they can be applied to better understand political issues and challenges in the contemporary global environment.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify and describe the main elements of the most significant theoretical approaches to the study of international relations;
  2. recognise and interpret key texts that have shaped the development of international relations theory;
  3. apply different theoretical approaches to the analysis of events in international affairs; and
  4. critically appraise theoretical works in the field of international relations.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. 600 word research proposal (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. 2800 word essay (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Examination 2 hours [in formal examination period] (40) [LO 1,2,4]

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 12 hours of tutorials; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level Political Science (POLS) courses, or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Not required.




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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

There are no current offerings for this course.

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