IRSST103-21A (NET)

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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  • NET students can access recordings of the lectures via Moodle shortly after the lecture has ended.
  • To maximise their learning, students are strongly encouraged to read the 'required readings' for each week. These will also be drawn upon for the online forum tutorials.
  • Many required readings come from the course text book. Please purchase/access the course book (see section below).

Tutor and Tutorials

  • For NET students there is no traditional 'sit down' tutorial. Instead, students should read the weekly 'required readings', answer the weekly questions and then post their answers on the Moodle forum by 5pm Wednesday each week. The tutor will provide feedback to your responses and student's then need to respond to the tutor (or another student) by 5pm Friday to fulfil the ‘participation’ part of the assessment. More details on how this is run is outlined in the 'Assessment' section below.
  • Successfully completing the weekly tutorial tasks accounts for 15% of the course mark.
  • The name and contact details of your tutor will be posted on Moodle in the first week of A-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:

Further learning

  • For advice on writing and structuring essays, and doing effective presentations, see advice documents on Moodle.
  • A number of A/V resources (podcasts and documentaries) are also 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. Getting into the habit of listening to weekly news or current events podcasts on a regular basis is an excellent way to keep yourself informed about the latest global developments.
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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
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  • Apply theory to case studies
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  • Discuss how globalization and international relations impacts the world they live in
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  • 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 (The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 8th edition). 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 topics are available on Moodle.

Online tutorial forums - questions, answers and participation (15%)

Tutorials (run as online forums) begin in the second week of class. There is no tutorial in the first week.

Note: Please study the required readings and consider the related tutorial questions before participating in the online tutorial forms. 7.5% of your final mark for this class comes from posting your answers to the weekly tutorial questions and another 7.5% comes from providing comments for discussion on the forums.

The segment of Moodle where the forum is located it 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).

How the online tutorial forums are run:

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 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
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 Presentations
14 May 2021
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Essay
4 Jun 2021
12:00 AM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Online tutorial forum - Q&A and Responses
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
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. This if for students interested in doing additional reading on topics of interest and essential for the assessments (in particular 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
  • The Great Hack
  • Inside Job
  • 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
  • Maidan
  • 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)
  • The Unknown Known
  • Frontline (series of documentaries)
  • Big Men
  • PBS Frontline documentary series
  • 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 related matters
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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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