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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 05/04/2022 16:13:05

Title of Module: International Relations in the Modern World

Code: PLTC10015 SCQF Level: 10
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:M  Leith

Summary of Module

This module enables students to develop a critical understanding of international relations from a Political Sociology standpoint. Throughout the course, students will explore the main approaches, theories, and debates in the discipline of International Relations. Concepts such as power, the state, empire, sovereignty, and international law, will be explored. Theoretical knowledge will be apply to current problems and issues in international politics through the use of case study examples. Students on the module will draw on a wide range of contemporary issues – such as the war in Syria, or the current stalemate in Venezuela – in order to critically explore these through various theoretical approaches. As such, the module enables students to critically evaluate international politics from a theoretically grounded point of view. Course content will be delivered via a mixture of face-to-face lectures and seminars, supervised critical reading, and online activities. The overarching themes of the module include: 


  • Theoretical perspectives and world views on international politics and relations
  • Concepts in international relations such as state, soft and hard power, interdependence, globalisation, empire, sovereignty, civilization, etc.
  • Main actors in international politics including people and social movements
  • Context and places in which the main and secondary actors operate (levels of prosperity/wealth, multi-level governance, historical institutions, international status, transnational memberships, etc.) 
  • Analysis of current problems/issues and using various theoretical perspectives and a case study approach
  • Evaluation of outcomes and implications of international politics for people and places 

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate an understanding of the main concepts and actors in international politics, and the context in which these operate.

L2. Understand the various theoretical perspectives in the study of International Relations and the worldviews these perspectives generate.

L3. Critically apply various theoretical perspectives in the study of International Relations issues.

L4. Critically evaluate current issues in international politics and produce analyses and recommendations from a theoretically grounded point of view.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 10.

Students will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary issues, concepts, principles and perspectives underpinning International Relations.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 10.

Students will be able to demonstrate their ability to use synthesise and present complex information relating to international politics issues in accessible and work-ready formats.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 10.

Students will be able to develop novel, critically-formulated, ideas and creative responses to the resolution of international politics problems.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 10.

Students will be able to produce professionally-written reports, and deliver oral presentations, to communicate sophisticated and considered responses to international politics issues, delivered both to peers and to subject specialists.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 10.

Students will be able to evidence their ability to exercise a high level of autonomy and responsibility for their own work, through the development of student-led written and oral forms of assessment.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
The module is designed to be delivered within a blended learning model, employing mixed modes of learning, teaching and assessment.

The module supports a number of UWS graduate attributes including developing students’ abilities to think critically, creatively, and in an analytical manner about international relations and current political affairs. The module will develop students’ employability and citizenship competencies, including knowledge synthesis, ability to create and deliver evidence-based arguments, and the production of professional policy briefs including policy recommendations.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Asynchronous Class Activity14
Independent Study150
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Armitage, D. (2012). Foundations of modern international thought. Cambridge University Press.

Boucher, D. (1998). Political theories of international relations (Vol. 141). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Keene, E. (2005). International political thought: An historical introduction. Polity.

Lachmann, R. (2010). States and power. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Nash, K. (2007). Contemporary political sociology: Globalization, politics, and power. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelUG Social Sciences
ModeratorC Bradshaw
External ExaminerJ Derounian
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Case study: 1500 words / Weighting: 25%
Policy Brief: 2500 words / Weighting: 75%
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Case studycheck markcheck mark  250

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Review/ Article/ Critique/ Paper  check markcheck mark750
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.