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International Relations Theory

Code: 101089 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500259 Political Science and Public Management OT 3 2
2500259 Political Science and Public Management OT 4 2
2503778 International Relations OB 2 2


Rafael Grasa Hernández

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:

Other comments on languages

Spanish, but also for papers english and catalan


The students must read aprox 1000 pages

It's very useful to read newspapers and journal,  particularly international sections and international news.


Objectives and Contextualisation

The  general and specific goals are: 

1. To locate knowledge of international theory in historical and epistemological perspective, in a comparative aprroach with social sciences and social and political theory.

2. To undertand the concepts of international theory and international theory, with all the nuances and meanings. 

3. To study the main approaches of international theory from: a) the normal presentation in handbooks and mainstream narrativs; b) some classical sources; c) some classical and selected texts; d) new analytical tools; e) the view of each approach of the alternative approaches

4. To know several conceptual and analytical frameworks and mappings for locate and understand the international theory debates.

5. To study some special issues: a) realism-liberalism debates; b) interdepedence and security impact in theory; c) reflectivism and rationalism approaches, int he context of constructivism 

6. To explore some cocnrete issues abotur the  comtemporary international agenda from the point of view of the main international theory approaches 


    Political Science and Public Management
  • Arguing from different theoretical perspectives.
  • Demonstrating they know theoretical tendencies and classical and recent analytical approximations of International Relations.
  • Distinguishing the discipline's main theories and different fields: conceptual developments, theoretical frameworks and theoretical approaches underlying the discipline's knowledge and different areas and sub-areas, as well as their value for the professional practice through concrete cases.
  • Interpreting and applying English texts in an academic way.
  • Managing the available time in order to accomplish the established objectives and fulfil the intended task.
  • Producing and planning researches or analytical reports.
  • Realising effective oral presentations that are suited to the audience.
  • Synthesizing and critically analysing information.
  • Working autonomously.
  • Working in teams and networking, particularly in interdisciplinary conditions.
    International Relations
  • Identify the main theories of international relations and their different fields (international theory, conflicts and security, international politics, etc.) to apply them in professional practice.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Arguing from different theoretical perspectives.
  2. Critically assessing the impacts of globalization in several areas: safety, environment, human rights, migrations and peace.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of theoretical trends and classical and recent analytical approaches to international relations.
  4. Demonstrating they know theoretical tendencies and classical and recent analytical approximations of International Relations.
  5. Describe the major approaches to international relations (realism, transnationalism, structuralism).
  6. Describing the international order: anarchy versus order, society of states and transnational society.
  7. Describing the main characteristic elements of the international society as a whole (1945-2000).
  8. Evaluate the different aspects of the different trends and analytical approaches in international relations from a specific methodological and conceptual viewpoint.
  9. Explaining the major approximations to the international relations (realism, transnationalism and structuralism).
  10. Interpreting and applying English texts in an academic way.
  11. Make adequate use of the theory and concepts of international relations (Hobbesian, Grotian and Kantian thought).
  12. Managing the available time in order to accomplish the established objectives and fulfil the intended task.
  13. Producing and planning researches or analytical reports.
  14. Properly using the theory and concepts of international relations (traditions of Hobbesian, Grotian or Kantian thought).
  15. Realising effective oral presentations that are suited to the audience.
  16. Synthesizing and critically analysing information.
  17. Working autonomously.
  18. Working in teams and networking, particularly in interdisciplinary conditions.



Lecture 1. International Relations versus international relations: context and concepts

Lecture 2. The notion of theory and the theory change (scientific revolution) in social sciences and International Relations

Lecture 3. Tools for mapping diversity: the state of the art on international theory


Lecture 4. Classical Realism (s)

Lecture 5. Structural Realism and another realisms

Lecture 6. Classical Liberalism (s)

Lecture 7. Neoliberalism or liberal neo-institutionalism

Lecture 8. “English school” of International Relations and the concept of “international society”

Lecture 9. Marxism and structural views

Lecture 10. Neo-marxist approaches and critical theory

Lecture 11. Constructivism (s)

Lecture 12. Several approaches and schools applied to International Political Economy (IPE)


Lecture 13. “Post” Approaches: post-structuralism, post-colonialism…

Lecture 14.Approaches based in feminist theory and gender studies


Lecture 15. Examples of contemporary debates and the present situation of international theory


The edicación del estudiante a la asignatura se divide en diferentes tipos de actividades, que, en coherencia, se concretan en diversas exigencias y metodología diferenciadas. Se trata de una asignatura de 6 ECTS, por tanto equivalente a 150 horas

The course has 6 ECTS, 150 hours in total:

a)     Presential activities s (50 hours, 33,3 %)

b)    Supervised activitites: 25  hours (16,7%)

c)      Papers and exams 7,5 hours (5%)

d)    Autonomous work: 67,5  hours (45%)


Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures 40 1.6
Practical cases and activities 4 0.16
Seminaries 6 0.24
Type: Supervised      
Control of readings and papers 25 1
Exam 7.5 0.3
Type: Autonomous      
Readings and cases 67.5 2.7


The final grade is a result of:

Final exam (with a presential part and one take-home part), 50%

Control of readings,  20%

Case studies, 30%

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Case studies 30% 0 0 1, 4, 6, 13, 9, 15, 12, 10, 16, 18
Control of readings and comprehension of literature 20% 0 0 1, 4, 3, 7, 6, 9, 5, 12, 10, 16, 17, 14, 11, 2, 8
Final Exam (presential and also with a take-home) 50% 0 0 1, 4, 6, 15, 12, 10, 16, 18, 14




General (Handbooks on international relations, with section on international theory) 

Brown, C. with K. Ainley (2009) Understanding International Relations (4th ed.) Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillian.

Art, R. J., and R. Jervis. 1995. International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues. 4th ed. Addison-Wesley.

Balaam, D. N., and M. Veseth, eds. 1996. Readings in International Political Economy. Prentice Hall.

Baylis, J., and S. Smith, eds. 1997. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Oxford University Press.

Brown, M. E., O. R. Cote, S. M. Lynn-Jones, and S. E. Miller, eds. 1998. Theories of War and Peace: An International Security Reader. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Bull, Hedley (1977), The Anarchical society: a study of order in world politics, New York: Columbia University Press (traducción castellana en editorial la Catarata)

Creswell, John W. (2003), Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches, 2a edición, Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

Keohane, Robert O. y  Nye, Joseph (1971), Transnational Relations and World Politics, Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.

Keohane, Robert O (1984), After hegemony: cooperation and discord in the world political economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Keohane, Robert O. (1989), International institutions and state power: essays in international relations theory, Boulder [etc.]: Westview Press.

Carlsnaes, Walter, Risse, Thomas y Simmons, Beth A. (eds.) (2002), Handbook of International Relations, London [etc.]: Sage Publications.

Kegley, C. H. and E. R. Wittkopf. 1998. World Politics: Trend and Transformation. 7th ed.New York NY: St. Martin's.

Knutsen, T. L. 1997. A History of International Relations Theory. Manchester University Press.

Morgenthau, Hans Joachim (1990), Escritos sobre política internacional, presentación de Antonio Truyol y Serra; estudio preliminar, traducción y notas de Esther Barbé, Madrid: Tecnos.

Rosenthal, J. H. 1999. Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader. 2nd ed. Washington D.C: Georgetown University Press.

Russett, B. M. and H. Starr. 1996. World Politics: The Menu for Choice. New York NY: W. H. Freeman.

Tuathail, G. O., S. Dalby, P. Routledge, and G. Otuathail, eds. 1998. The Geopolitics Reader. Routledge.

Viotti, P. R., and M. V. Kauppi. 1997. International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity. Prentice Hall College Division.

Waltz, Kenneth N. (1979), Theory of International Politics, Reading [etc.]: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Wendt, Alexander (1999), Social theory of international politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wight, Martin (1991), International theory: the three traditions, edited by Gabriele Wight and Brian Porter, introductory essay by Hedldy Bull, Londres: The Royal Institute for International Affairs


-         Burchill, S. et al. (2009) Theories of International Relations (4th ed.)  Palgrave/Macmillian. A medio camino entre manual de relaciones internacionales y enfoque teórico. Nivel medio

 -         Dunne, T., M. Kurki & S. Smith (eds.) (2010, 2ª edición) Theories of International Relations: Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (A 2nd edition in 2010 is also valid – references below are for the 1st edition).   The best useaful handbook 

 -         Griffiths, Martin (editor), International Relations Theory for the Twenty-First Century. An introduction, Londres, Routledge, 2007. Basic level, copy in virtual campus

-         Jorgensen, Knud Erik,  International Relations Theory. A New Introduction.New York.Palgrave7Macmillan, 2010. intermediate level. 



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