Topic 12: Revisiting Theories, Sources, Methods, Analysis


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Throughout the examination of cases, events, and issues in international relations, we have drawn on our initial foray into international relations theories.

Learning objectives

  • Identify international relations as one of the major fields of political science, within broader disciplines of social science, with associated analytical tools
  • Describe major issues in the study of international relations
  • Analyze the impact of events on our understanding of relations between states
  • Evaluate the connection between events and theory development
  • Judge theories of international relations in light of historical and contemporary events Reading


Student coordinators will select three of the following cases to explore this week:

  • Constructivism as a general approach, or a specific theory
  • Applying so-called realism and socializing realists
  • Applying liberal institutionalism and socializing idealists
  • Systems perspectives on international relations
  • Gender perspectives on violence

Activities before class

  • Review current events
  • Read the case summary or links
  • Check Moodle for case notes from the presenters
  • Apply your own aide memoire on theory: which ones seem most useful? What do they omit? What can be gained from other perspectives?
  • Are there alternative narratives for the cases under consideration?
  • What terminology or concepts are relevant in the discussion of this case?

Activities during class

  • Discuss current events
  • Relate current events to the issues and events up for discussion
  • Present the cases
  • Discuss the cases from empirical and normative perspectives
  • Call-in speaker (if any) Q&A managed by coordinators
  • International perspectives from allied military academies (if available)
  • Frame an essay question addressing the issues raised in discussion
  • Offer suggestions for completion of the analytical papers following the presentation
  • List relevant terminology and concepts

Activities after class

  • Post comments on Moodle
  • Confirm understanding of terminology and concepts
  • Review notes and readings for essay question

Additional resources

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