Debating International Relations

Apply political theories and concepts to today's major global issues and debates

Debating International Relations will introduce you to the major principles, concepts, actors, and theories of the international system. Using examples from the world today, you will learn how apply this theory to current debates, issues, and conflicts to gain an objective and informed view.

The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, you will examine a number of theoretical approaches drawn from different intellectual traditions in the discipline, including classical and contemporary realism, liberalism, and radical approaches to international relations, as well as contemporary debates on power and globalisation.

You will then be able to apply these theories to current policy issues such as terrorism and security, human rights, governance and global institutions, the environment and poverty and development.

The second part will focus on the current role of Scotland and the UK within the context of international relations. With the recent Brexit referendum decision – where the UK voted to leave the European Union – special focus will be given to examining how this major relationship shift will affect systems within the UK, the EU, and internationally. You will gain a deep understanding of the EU’s development as a political system, and explore issues surrounding the Union’s recent enlargements as well as its general role in international relations.

Who should choose this course?

This course will appeal to any student interested in politics, international relations, and international legal and political systems, especially those who are planning a career or academic research in these fields. 

Course format

The course will be taught using a combination of lectures and tutorials, with discussion groups based on current issues and debates in international relations.

Students will be expected to read materials provided for the class and to participate in discussions.



Coursework: 2500 word essay (100%)
A compulsory essay plan of up to 750 words (template provided) will be required as part of the formative assessment and in preparation for the final essay.

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories in IR
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the key structures and agents that constitute international relations and global politics
  3. Critically assess debates and contemporary issues in international relations theory and world affairs
  4. Apply the theoretical knowledge gained in analyses of concrete processes and changes in contemporary international relations

A number of fee packages are available for the Summer School. Full fee information can be found on the Fees page.

All fee packages include tuition costs, selected social activities, and your chosen accommodation type. Full information on our accommodation options can be found here.

Costs are provided per week. To calculate your total cost, select your package type, then multiply this cost by the number of weeks in your course.

e.g. A student selecting a Silver package for a 4-week course in July would calculate:

£776 x 4 weeks = £3104

To secure your place at the Summer School, you will be required to pay a deposit of £125 which can be reclaimed towards your fee package.

Please note that study in the UK may incur additional costs e.g. visa application fees.

If you submit your application and deposit before 31 January 2018, you can claim our special early bird rate. We also offer a range of special rates for students at our valued partner institutions. Please see our Fees page for more details.