Foundations of International Relations (GOVT6147)


Why do states behave the way they do? Using a historical perspective, this unit explores the ways in which the different theories of international relations account for what shapes the international system - who are its main actors, what are its determining forces and structures. It examines both how these theories have vied with one another within inter-paradigm debates and how they developed in relation to specific historical events. These theories include realism, idealism, neorealism, neoliberal institutionalism, Marxism, the English school, constructivism, poststructuralism, feminism, post-colonial approaches. While no prior study of international relations is required, a willingness to engage with theoretical thinking and grapple with complex questions of ontology and epistemology is essential.

Further unit of study information


1x2hr seminar/week


2x2000wd Essay (60%), 1x2hr exam (30%) and Seminar participation (10%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.