International Relations III

Course - first cycle - 61-90 credits

Syllabus for students spring 2013

Course Code:
IR103L revision 1.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
International Relations
Date of establishment:
08 March 2012
Date of ratification:
21 December 2012
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
21 January 2013
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
30 August 2012

Entry requirements

International Relations, 31-60 hp.

Learning outcomes

The general aim of the course is that students should be able to further develop their analytical competence for independent analysis and reflection regarding complex issues in the field of International Relations.

After finishing International Relations III, the student can

1. Define, describe, and critically reflect upon ethical issues and problems within the field of International Relations.
2. Critically reflect upon linkages between ethical and security issues.
3. Analyze military and non-military security issues.
4. Utilize and critically reflect upon methods in the field of International Relations.
5. Formulate and perform an individual analysis (thesis) of a research problem within the subject area.


Assessment of student performance takes place through written assignments and an individual thesis. The thesis is to be defended at an examination seminar in which students comment on each other’s work (seminar performance is part of the examination). The examiner chairs the seminar and provides a written report for each thesis after the seminar.

Re-sit examinations
Students who do not pass the regular course exams have the minimum of two re-sit opportunities. Re-sits follow the same form as the original exams, apart from re-sits for group work, which take the form of individual written and oral assignments.

Course content

The course consists of three modules.

Contemporary Challenges in International Relations, 7,5 hp

This module delves into contemporary challenges in the field of International Relations, particularly pertaining to ethics and security and the linkages between ethical and security issues. The topics include tensions such as those between intervention and state sovereignty and traditional security and human security. This module also discusses the importance of highlighting normative positions, and subsequent methodological consequences, in a variety of analytical settings.

Learning outcomes of the module

After finishing the module, the student can

1. Describe, interpret and critically reflect upon ethical theories and problems within the field of IR.
2. Explain how military and non-military security issues can be conceptualized within IR.
3. Critically apply the concept of securitization and reflect upon its normative consequences.

Method and Philosophy of Science, 7,5 hp

This module builds on the IR II methods module. The learning activities focus on the following main areas: (1) philosophy of science in relation to concrete research in International Relations; (2) the interrelationship between the different elements of the scientific research process; and (3) the aspect of critical self-reflection in International Relations research. The module requires self-study of literature, and student participation in seminars and lectures. It is examined through a written assignment.

Learning outcomes of the module

After finishing the module, the student can

1. Define and compare the key epistemological, ontological and methodological starting points in the field of International Relations.
2. Independently pose and assess scientific research problems by describing how methodology and theory are linked.
3. Identify and summarize the elements of the scientific research process – research question, theory, method, material, analysis and results – and their relation to one another.
4. Evaluate his/her own previous research product in terms of its methodological choices in relation to existing research within the student’s chosen area, and identify his/her potential contribution to this literature.

Thesis, 15 credits

The module consists of individual thesis work (15 credits). The student chooses his/her thesis subject in collaboration with a supervisor. The learning activities of the module include research plan, text seminars, supervision, and examination seminar.

Learning outcomes of the module

After finishing the module, the student can

1. Identify problems, and articulate purpose and research questions relevant to the subject.
2. Identify, correctly describe and use for the task the relevant theory and methodology in relation to previous research.
3. Critically process material in an academic and structured analysis.
4. Be able to present his/her study in an academic thesis demonstrating a good command of language and with a correct and consistent referencing system.
5. Orally present and discuss the student’s own thesis and give constructive criticism on others' theses.

Learning activities

Self-study of literature, lectures, seminars, group presentations, thesis work, and supervision.

A student who has not finished the project work during the course, or has not received a passing grade on the project work at the end of the course cannot be guaranteed continued supervision.

Grading system

Excellent (A), Very Good (B), Good (C), Satisfactory (D), Pass (E) or Fail (U).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Halperin, Sandra & Oliver Heath. 2012. Political Research. Methods and Practical Skills, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hutchings, Kimberley (2010), Global Ethics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Peoples, Columba & Nick Vaughan-Williams (2010), Critical Security Studies. An Introduction. London & New York: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group.

Rachels, James: The Elements of Moral Philosophy, McGraw-Hill Higher Education: London 2009 (selections, around 100 pages).

Smith, Michael E. (2010), International Security. Politics, Policy, Prospects. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Selected journal articles, around 80 pages.

Course evaluation

All students are offered an opportunity to give oral and written feedback at the end of the course. A summary of the results will be made available on the school’s web-pages. The students are also given a possibility to offer feedback for each module/unit.

Student participation takes place through the course council.