IRSST103-21A (HAM)

Introduction to International Relations

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Political Science and Public Policy


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Paper Description

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This course provides students with an introduction to the field of International Relations (IR). Drawing on a variety of analytical perspectives, it addresses a range of topics, including: war and peace, globalisation, humanitarian intervention, the role of political ideology, international organisations, New Zealand foreign policy, nuclear proliferation, poverty and inequality, the political implications of climate change, the legacy of Donald Trump's foreign policy and the new Joe Biden administration, and how rising powers, emerging technologies and nonstate actors are altering the contours of international relations today. It also considers what the Covid-19 global pandemic means for IR.

Major eras covered include the 20th century clash between Fascism, Communism and Liberalism, the post-Cold War period of US primacy and the emerging multipolar world of today.

The course examines historical and contemporary case studies and promotes understanding of how and why major historical events occurred. In doing so, it hopes to provide students with a deeper understanding of how globalisation and international issues are impacting the world they live in.

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Paper Structure

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Lectures and lecture slides

  • This paper is a FLEXI paper. This means that it is taught in-person on campus during one hour lectures on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but lecture recordings and PowerPoint slides are also put up on Moodle after each lecture for students who cannot attend class.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to read the weekly required readings that buttress the lecture material, and are necessary for you to participate fully in the tutorials.
  • Many required readings come from the course text book. Please purchase/access the course book (see section below)

Tutorials and your tutor

  • Students are expected to attend one tutorial per week. Tutorials are a place for students to engage critically with the required readings and respectfully debate the issues with their classmates.
  • There are four time slots for tutorials on campus - choose your preferred time/day on Moodle. It is first in, first served, and you must go to the same tutorial time for the entire semester.
  • As a FLEXI paper, if you are unable to attend the in-person tutorial there are weekly online tutorial forums that you can participate in.
  • Note: tutorials start in the second week of A-semester. There is no tutorial in the first week.
  • Students must read the weekly required readings (document available on Moodle) and consider the tutorial questions contained in this document before attending tutorials or engaging in the weekly online tutorial forums. A set of questions to consider, answer and discuss is included for each weeks set of readings. For some weeks a podcast to listen to prior to the tutorial may also be assigned.
  • The name and contact details of your tutor will be made available on Moodle during the first week or semester.

The Course Text Book

  • The text book for this course is The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 8th edition. Students in Hamilton can purchase this from the campus bookshop; for those studying at a distance it can be ordered from here:
  • A copy of the course book will also be available from desk loan in the libraries 'high use' section.
  • It can also be viewed for free online. Access:

Moodle usage to further learning

  • For advice on writing/structuring essays see advice documents on Moodle.
  • A number of A/V resources (podcasts and documentaries) are provided below. Students may want to consider investigating these in their own time. Hearing international relations experts discuss issues - or watching documentaries - is a very effective way to learn and can be fascinating in its own right.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Explain the main components of key international relations theories
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Apply theory to case studies
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Discuss how globalization and international relations impacts the world they live in
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Demonstrate analytical and writing skills
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Reading Summary: International Relations theory (20%)

Due date: Friday, 19th March, 5pm (submit through TurnItIn on Moodle)

Word count: 1000 words (500 words per chapter)

For this assignment you must choose TWO of the following four theory chapters contained in the course text book (The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 8th edition):

  • Chapter 6: Liberal Internationalism
  • Chapter 8: Realism
  • Chapter 9: Feminism
  • Chapter 12: Social Constructivism

Once you have chosen TWO chapters you must write up a summary of each. The summary should contain the three following things:

  • Why the theory is relevant to international relations
  • The major assumptions and key concepts of the theory
  • The key points made in the conclusion section of your two chosen chapters

Short essay (15%)

Due date: Friday, 9th April, 5pm (submit through TurnItIn on Moodle)

  • This assessment requires you to submit a short essay (approximately 800-1000 words).
  • Choose and answer one of the following questions:
  1. Choose ONE of the theoretical approaches to International Relations (IR) outlined in the course text book. Outline its most important points and overall approach to the topic of IR. Apply it in the analysis of a real international issue or conflict (contemporary or historical) and demonstrate how it helps explain that issue or conflict.
  2. How is 21st century warfare different to 20th century warfare? Use a case study to illustrate the differences, and explain whether the state in your case study was successful or not.
  3. Consider this statement: "The role of non-state actors and international organisations are becoming more important in contemporary international relations than traditional state actors". Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Provide examples to support your answer.

NOTE: Your essay should be clearly organised and structured with sufficient attention given to all elements of the question. While you are not expected to provide specific quotations from authors, demonstrating some knowledge of major IR theories and thinkers, and of international issues (historical or contemporary), will be to your advantage.

Video Presentation (20%)

Due date: Friday 14th May, 5pm

  • For this assessment you need to put together and upload to Moodle a 7-8 minute video presentation.
  • In your presentation, you will outline and analyse a current issue using a major IR theory, and consider the implications for New Zealand.
  • Please use PowerPoint to support your presentation.
  • Instructions on how to record audio/video and upload your presentation are available on Moodle.

Here is a list of topics to choose from:


  1. Brexit in the United Kingdom
  2. The North Korean Nuclear Crisis
  3. The Rights of Women in the Developing World
  4. The Effects of Climate Change
  5. The Rise of China in the Asia-Pacific region
  6. The Surge of Populism in the Developed World
  7. The Israel-Palestine Conflict
  8. The Syrian Civil War
  9. The Contemporary Decline of Democracy Worldwide
  10. Russia's Involvement in Ukraine and Syria
  11. The International Implications of Covid-19
  12. Your own topic! If there is another topic you would like to do, you are free to do so but please check with the lecturer (Dr Steff) first.

The rationale for this assessment is that developing presentation skills is essential for students at the University of Waikato. Not only will you be called upon to do presentations in advanced classes in later years at university, but many of your future prospective careers will require you to present to colleagues and management.

Essay (30%)

Due date: Friday 4th June, 5pm (submit through TurnItIn on Moodle)

Essay questions will be put up on Moodle.

Tutorial attendance and participation (15%)

Each student is expected to attend/engage in one tutorial each week.

  • EITHER attend one of the in-person tutorials on campus OR do one online tutorial forum per week (see the section below for how online tutorials are run).
  • Attendance equates to 7.5% of your final mark and participation the other 7.5%. Participation involves answering tutorial questions, adding to the discussion and engaging others’ views in class.
  • Each week there are a series of questions linked to that week's required readings; you must answer and discuss the questions with your tutor and fellow students.

Online tutorial forums

If you choose to engage in the online tutorials rather than come to campus, the segment of Moodle where the forum is located is called ‘Tutorial Discussion’. Each week, questions will be posted in the forum. Students need to enter the weekly forum and post your answers to the questions (click ‘reply’ in the forum and type in your answer as a ‘message’).

At the beginning of each week the next forum posting will be put up (i.e. 'Week 2 – Questions', 'Week 3 – Questions', etc).

Instructions for the online tutorial forums

1. Each week you need to do the readings and post your answers to the questions by 5pm Wednesday in the forum for that week. After this time, your tutor will reply to each set of questions with comments and their thoughts.

2. Then to fulfil the ‘participation’ part of the assessment, you will need to respond by 5pm Friday to either the tutor's response to your questions, or you can respond to the answers anyone else from the course has posted. It’s up to you what you say – you may seek further clarity about the questions and answers, simply have something interesting to comment on, write about something going on in the world that day or week that relates to the questions, or simply comment on whether you agree or disagree with the answers someone else has posted.

Feel free to share your personal political views and opinions too but be respectful on the forums – if you disagree with someone it is best to back it up with facts and explaining you’re reasoning for disagreeing or holding that opinion. We are not here to troll and trump (no pun intended) one another – we are here to discuss and learn. Feel free to be provocative and suggest ideas you think others may not have considered.

Appeal grades and complaint procedure process

Students wishing to appeal a grade, or wishing to make any other complaint, should in the first instance, approach the lecturer. If the matter is unresolved, please approach the Convenor of the Political Science programme. If no resolution is possible within the programme, see the regulations for possible further steps.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Reading Summary: International Relations Theory
19 Mar 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Short essay
9 Apr 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Video Presentation
14 May 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Essay
4 Jun 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Tutorial attendance/participation
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Text Book and Required Readings

  • The full list of 'required readings' (chapters from the text book and other select articles/podcasts) relevant to each week of study is available on Moodle.
  • The text book for his course is The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 8th edition. Students in Hamilton can purchase this from the campus bookshop; for those studying at a distance it can be ordered from here:
  • A copy of the course book will also be available from desk loan in the libraries 'high use' section.
  • It can also be viewed for free online. Access:
  • Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy journal access: to access these journals search 'Foreign Affairs' or 'Foreign Policy' through the e-journal tab.
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Recommended Readings

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A list of recommended readings is available on Moodle. These are for additional reading by students on subjects of interest and will assist you when it comes time to conduct research for the essay.
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Other Resources

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There are a number of excellent IR-centric podcasts. Some focus on specific issues, others are more general. Below are a number worth checking out.


Documentaries (many of these can be freely streamed online - just search google for them. Some are available on Netflix and others on other streaming platforms)

  • Why We Fight
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • Inside Job
  • The Great Hack
  • War Stories
  • Zero Hour
  • Zizek Slavoj's 'the Pervert's Guide to Ideology'
  • The War Tapes
  • T(ERROR)
  • Reagan
  • The Trials of Henry Kissinger
  • Control Room
  • The Cold War (CNN documentaries)
  • The Power of Nightmares
  • The Century of the Self
  • Mitt
  • Weiner
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • The 11th Hour
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom
  • The Unknown Known
  • Failsafe
  • Outfoxed
  • Michael Moore's documentaries
  • Darwin’s Nightmare
  • Best of Enemies
  • The War Room
  • The Fog of War
  • American Experience (series of documentaries)
  • PBS Frontline (series of documentaries)
  • Big Men
  • The Corporation
  • A Day in the Life of a Dictator
  • Food Inc
  • Get Me Roger Stone
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Online Support

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Moodle will be used for the following:

  • For students to submit assignments
  • For the lecturer to provide grades for the internal assessments
  • Videos of lectures will be uploaded to Moodle after each class
  • Lecture PowerPoint notes will be uploaded to Moodle after each class
  • Discussion and putting up links to articles and video clips
  • Lecturer will use Moodle to make students aware of changes to the class schedule and other course matters
  • Weekly online tutorial forums.
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In addition to attending lectures and tutorials, students will be expected to complete assignments and read the required readings. The expected workload for the paper is an average of about 10 hours per week.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: POLS103

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