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168 Current International Relations Research Topics For Any Level

international relations research topics

Are you a student looking for intriguing international relations research topics? Look no further! In this blog post, we have created a list of 168 unique and thought-provoking research topics in the field of international relations that should help students get an A+ on their next paper.

Whether you’re studying political science, international affairs or related disciplines, this comprehensive list covers a wide range of fascinating subjects. From global governance to security issues, diplomacy, human rights, and more, these topics are designed to inspire your research and help you delve deeper into the complexities of international relations. So, grab your notepad and get ready to explore these captivating research ideas!

A Word On International Relations Theses

International relations is the study of interactions between nations and global actors. It examines politics, economics, security, and culture, exploring how countries cooperate, conflict and shape global dynamics. If you’re about to start working on a thesis in international relations and you are wondering what to include in your paper, here is a short explanation of each of the mandatory chapters:

Introduction: The opening section that presents the research problem, objectives, and significance of the study. Literature Review: A comprehensive review of existing scholarly works related to the research topic, providing a context for the study. Methodology: Describes the research design, data collection methods, and analytical techniques used to address the research questions or hypotheses. Findings: Presents the empirical results or outcomes of the research, often supported by data, analysis, and interpretation. Discussion: Analyzes and interprets the findings in relation to the research objectives, drawing connections to existing literature and providing insights. Conclusion: Summarizes the main findings, highlights the contributions to the field, and suggests avenues for future research. References: Lists all the sources cited in the thesis following a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

Now, it’s time to deliver on our promise and give you the list of international relations research paper topics. Choose the one you like the most:

Easy International Relations Research Topics

Explore our list of easy international relations research topics that will help you understand global politics and analyze the dynamics of international relations with ease

  • The impact of globalization on state sovereignty and international relations
  • Analyzing the role of non-state actors in global governance structures
  • The influence of soft power in shaping international relations and diplomacy
  • Exploring the relationship between human rights and international relations
  • Examining the dynamics of economic interdependence in international relations
  • The role of international organizations in promoting peace and security
  • Assessing the impact of climate change on international relations and cooperation
  • Analyzing the role of regional integration in shaping global politics
  • The implications of cyber warfare for international relations and national security
  • Examining the challenges and opportunities of humanitarian intervention in international relations
  • Analyzing the role of ideology in shaping state behavior in international relations
  • Exploring the impact of migration and refugee crises on international relations
  • Assessing the role of international law in resolving conflicts and promoting peace
  • Investigating the role of intelligence agencies in shaping international relations

International Relations Thesis Topics

Our wide range of international relations thesis topics will guide you towards developing a strong research question, conducting in-depth analysis, and contributing to the field with your original research:

  • Power dynamics and the balance of power in international relations
  • Exploring the role of diplomacy in conflict resolution and peacebuilding
  • The impact of nuclear proliferation on international security and non-proliferation regimes
  • Analyzing the role of international institutions in managing global crises
  • The influence of nationalism on interstate relations and regional cooperation
  • Examining the role of international norms and human rights in shaping foreign policy
  • Assessing the impact of economic globalization on state sovereignty in international relations
  • The role of social media in shaping public opinion and international relations
  • Exploring the concept of hegemony and its implications for international relations
  • The role of gender in international relations and its impact on policy-making
  • Analyzing the role of intelligence agencies in shaping international relations
  • The implications of emerging technologies on international security and arms control
  • Examining the role of media and propaganda in international conflicts and public opinion
  • The impact of regional integration on state behavior and international cooperation

Advanced International Relations Topics For Research

Dive into complex issues, explore cutting-edge theories, and unravel the intricate dynamics of global affairs with our advanced international relations topics for research:

  • China’s global rise and its power dynamics
  • Non-traditional security threats in international relations
  • AI and warfare: Implications for international security
  • Climate change, conflict, and forced migration in international relations
  • Religion and politics in international relations
  • Populism’s impact on global governance and international relations
  • Social movements and civil society in shaping international relations
  • Pandemics and international cooperation: Implications for global governance
  • Cultural diplomacy and soft power in international relations
  • Information warfare and disinformation in international relations
  • Regional powers shaping global security dynamics
  • Responsibility to protect and humanitarian interventions in international relations
  • Resource scarcity and environmental degradation in international relations
  • Migration and refugee crises’ impact on global stability

International Relations Research Questions

Our carefully curated list of international relations research questions will inspire critical thinking and promote meaningful discussions:

  • How does power transition theory explain shifts in global power dynamics?
  • What are the implications of the rise of non-state actors on traditional state-centric international relations theories?
  • How do identity politics and nationalism shape interstate conflicts?
  • What are the factors influencing state compliance with international human rights norms?
  • How does globalization impact state sovereignty?
  • What are the challenges of multilateralism in addressing global issues?
  • How does public opinion influence state behavior in international relations?
  • What are the causes and consequences of failed states in international relations?
  • How does the distribution of power in international institutions affect their legitimacy?
  • What are the implications of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, on international security?
  • How do regional conflicts and security dilemmas impact regional integration efforts?
  • What are the root causes of terrorism?
  • How does economic interdependence shape interstate relations and global governance structures?
  • What are the challenges of global environmental governance in addressing climate change?

International Relations Paper Topics

Choose one of our international relations paper topics that resonate with your interests and embark on an enriching research journey:

  • The role of ideology in shaping state behavior in international relations
  • Analyzing the impact of economic sanctions on diplomatic relations between countries
  • The role of media and propaganda in influencing public opinion in international conflicts
  • Exploring the relationship between globalization and cultural identity in international relations
  • The implications of cybersecurity threats on national security and international relations
  • Assessing the role of intelligence agencies in gathering and analyzing international intelligence
  • Analyzing the impact of regional organizations on regional conflicts and cooperation in international relations
  • The influence of international trade agreements on global economic and political relations
  • Exploring the dynamics of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in international relations
  • The role of international law in resolving territorial disputes and promoting peace
  • Non-state actors in international relations: Influence and challenges
  • Conflict resolution mechanisms: Negotiation, mediation, and peacebuilding approaches
  • Diplomatic immunity: Balancing immunity with accountability in international relations
  • The impact of global pandemics on international cooperation and security

Engaging Topic Ideas About International Relations

Are you seeking engaging and captivating topic ideas for your international relations research? Choose one of these engaging topic ideas about international relations:

  • Global governance and international organizations in addressing global challenges.
  • Nationalism’s impact on international relations and global cooperation.
  • Soft power in shaping international perceptions and relations.
  • Regional conflicts’ implications for global stability and security.
  • Cyber warfare: Assessing evolving cyber threats in international relations.
  • Media’s role in international relations: Influence, propaganda, and disinformation.
  • Economic interdependence: Opportunities and risks in global relations.
  • Diplomacy in the digital age: Challenges of virtual diplomacy.
  • Global migration and refugee crises: Humanitarian and political dimensions.
  • Human rights in international relations: Promoting universal rights.
  • Terrorism’s impact on global security and counterterrorism efforts.
  • Environmental diplomacy: Addressing global environmental challenges.
  • Religion’s role in international relations.
  • Regional power dynamics: Influence of major powers in different regions

international relations research topics

Interesting International Relations Research Paper Topics

Uncover fascinating research paper topics in international relations that will captivate your readers and showcase your analytical skills. Use one of these interesting international relations research paper topics:

  • Populism’s rise and its impact on international relations and global governance
  • Climate change’s geopolitical implications: Conflicts, migrations, and resource competition
  • Hybrid warfare: Analyzing blurred lines between conventional and unconventional threats
  • Technology’s impact on diplomacy and the future of diplomatic practices
  • Nuclear energy diplomacy: Balancing peaceful uses and proliferation concerns
  • Soft power and cultural industries’ influence in international relations
  • Politics of humanitarian aid: Challenges and ethical considerations
  • Media framing’s impact on public opinion in international conflicts
  • International cooperation in space exploration and its geopolitical implications
  • Diaspora communities’ role in shaping international relations and global politics
  • Migration policies and human rights: Balancing border control and human dignity
  • Global health governance: Cooperation, challenges, and pandemic responses
  • Environmental peacebuilding: Addressing conflicts over natural resources and degradation
  • Economic sanctions: Effectiveness and ethical implications in international relations

Political Science Dissertation Topics

Our list of political science dissertation topics will provide you with a solid foundation for developing a unique research proposal and making a significant contribution to the field:

  • The role of political ideologies in foreign policy and international relations.
  • National security strategies and state behavior in international relations.
  • Global governance and collective decision-making challenges in international institutions.
  • Public opinion’s influence on foreign policy and international relations.
  • Identity politics and intergroup relations in international contexts.
  • Humanitarian interventions and the responsibility to protect.
  • Geopolitics and resource conflicts: Strategic importance of natural resources.
  • International law’s role in shaping state behavior and resolving conflicts.
  • Comparative political systems in international relations.
  • Political leadership’s impact on diplomatic relations and cooperation.
  • International development assistance: Aid effectiveness and challenges.
  • Non-state actors in global politics: Influence, networks, power dynamics.
  • Intelligence agencies in international intelligence gathering and analysis.
  • Political parties and foreign policy shaping

Current International Relations Topics For Research Paper

Stay up to date with the latest developments in global politics by exploring our selection of current international relations topics for research paper writing :

  • Emerging technologies’ impact on global security and power dynamics.
  • Transnational threats: Terrorism, crime, and cyber challenges in focus.
  • Regional integration in globalization: Achievements, limitations, and prospects.
  • Trade wars: Implications for global economy and cooperation.
  • Disinformation and fake news: Influence on international politics and public opinion.
  • Climate change negotiations: Progress and challenges in combating global warming
  • Cybersecurity and emerging threats in international relations.
  • Regional power dynamics in the Middle East: Implications for global security
  • Global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Cooperation and challenges
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation in international policy
  • Rising nationalism and its impact on international cooperation
  • Humanitarian crisis in Yemen: International responses and challenges
  • Technology and the future of warfare: Implications for global security
  • The Belt and Road Initiative: Assessing its impact on international relations

Awesome Research Topics For International Relations

Our awesome research topics for international relations allow you to explore diverse areas of global politics and contribute to the field with your exceptional research:

  • NGOs’ role in shaping international policies and agendas
  • Humanitarian interventions and the responsibility to protect: Effectiveness and ethics
  • Cybersecurity challenges in international relations: Risks and responses
  • Global migration governance: Policies and implications
  • Globalization vs national sovereignty: Impacts on state behavior
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Geopolitical influence and challenges
  • Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: Effectiveness of treaties
  • Gender in international relations: Impact of norms and policies
  • Post-colonial perspectives in international relations: Power dynamics and legacies
  • Climate justice and international cooperation: Addressing climate change
  • Regional organizations in global governance and international relations
  • Politics of humanitarian intervention: Strategies and outcomes
  • Political economy of international trade: Impact of policies and agreements
  • Populism’s impact on democracy and international relations

Controversial International Relations Topics

Delve into the realm of controversy and discourse with our thought-provoking controversial international relations topics:

  • Drones in targeted killings: Legal and ethical implications
  • Nuclear energy and non-proliferation: Benefits and risks
  • Intervention in state sovereignty: Legitimacy and consequences
  • Ethics of economic sanctions: Effectiveness and impact on civilians
  • Cyber warfare and international norms: Regulating cyber conflicts
  • Climate change’s impact on national security and conflicts
  • Intelligence agencies in covert operations and international relations
  • Politics of humanitarian aid: Motivations and challenges
  • Ethics of military intervention: Justifications and consequences
  • Politics of regime change: Motivations and implications
  • Media bias’s impact on international perceptions and diplomacy
  • Private military companies: Challenges and accountability
  • Politics of disarmament and arms control: Progress and challenges
  • Corporate interests’ influence on foreign policy and relations

Best International Relations Topics For 2023

Stay ahead of the curve with our selection of the best international relations topics for 2023. These carefully curated topics reflect the current trends, emerging challenges and pressing issues:

  • COVID-19 pandemic’s implications on global politics and international relations
  • Rise of populism and its impact on democracy and international cooperation
  • Cybersecurity challenges in a hyper-connected world: Risks and responses
  • Future of international cooperation in addressing global challenges and conflicts
  • Climate change and security: Implications for international relations and stability
  • Evolving role of regional powers in shaping global politics and relations
  • Technological advancements’ impact on state power and international relations
  • Global governance reform: Restructuring international institutions
  • Social media’s role in shaping international perceptions and political movements
  • Challenges and prospects of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
  • Intersection of artificial intelligence and international relations
  • Impact of trade wars on global economic relations and cooperation
  • Geopolitical tensions in the Arctic: Resource competition and influence
  • Future of multilateralism: Relevance and effectiveness in a changing world

Get Affordable Help Today

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With our safe and reliable service, you can trust that your paper is in good hands. Whether you’re a college student or in any class, our custom online assistance will ensure that you receive top marks on your international relations research paper. Don’t stress, let our professional service assist you and help you get an A+ on your next international relations research paper!

We have also prepared a list of best topics on the following disciplines:

  • 122 Best Ecology Topics To Sparkle Your Writing
  • 150 Original Accounting Research Paper Topics
  • 233 Marketing Research Topics To Come Up With An Impressive Paper
  • Leadership Topics For Academic Research Papers
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  • 50+ Excellent Economics Paper Topics You Should Not Miss
  • 100 Gender Research Topics For Academic Papers
  • 60+ History Research Paper Topics From Our Top Writers
  • 110 Impressive Nursing Research Topics To Use

How do I choose a research topic in international relations?

Consider your interests, current events, and gaps in existing literature to identify an area of focus. Brainstorm potential topics and ensure they align with your research objectives.

What makes a strong international relations research paper?

A strong research paper includes a well-defined research question, solid theoretical framework, rigorous analysis, credible sources, and logical structure. It should also contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

How can I narrow down my international relations research topic?

Consider specific regions, actors, theories, or policy areas within international relations. Narrowing down your topic will allow for a more focused and manageable research paper.

Can I use case studies in my international relations research paper?

Yes, case studies can be valuable in providing empirical evidence and in-depth analysis. They help illustrate theoretical concepts and offer real-world examples to support your arguments.

Political Science Research Topics

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Free International Relations Essay Examples & Topics

The modern world is deeply interconnected. The relationships between nation-states, non-governmental organizations, and multinational corporations are quite complex. International relations (or IR for short) are exactly the study of those relationships. They are concerned with issues such as global politics and foreign policy, as well as many others.

To write an international relations essay, you should learn about different theoretical frameworks. These theories help understand the interactions between states, the purpose of policies, the history of international systems, etc. Some of the main types of international relations theories are as follows:

Realism deals with “real life.” It attempts to emphasize the importance of national and international security. The fields that are studied most within this theory are history, political science, and economics.

Constructivism analyzes constructed state identities. It is involved with cultural studies as well as sociology and social policy.

Finally, Marxism is the theory that mainly concerns itself with inequalities and socioeconomic imbalances. It is most critical of the international capitalist system and attempts to deconstruct class struggle and marginalization.

It is easy to see why international relations are important. With such a broad subject matter, it is also easy to get lost. That’s why our experts have compiled several international relations essay topics here. We have also collected useful advice and samples for you to study.

How to Pick an International Relations Essay Topic

An appropriate topic is a fundamental part of a successful international relations essay. Considering the possible ideas, selecting an area that is outside your expertise can be detrimental. Therefore, we have created a guide to making the right choice for your assignment.

To pick the right topic, try these steps:

  • Brainstorm ideas.

One of the vital steps in writing any academic work is the first one. Before conducting any research, write down the ideas that are already present in your mind. Maybe you already have a particular area you want to talk about. For example, you can explore feminism or state sovereignty. Rely on what you know best and what interests you most.

  • Check credible sources.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to focus on, it is time to find sources. Your best bet is to concentrate on works by established authors in the field of IR (e.g., Alexander Wendt). Of course, you may also rely on websites from well-known organizations. Look for reports and articles online. Check that the information you are acquiring is recent and up to date.

  • Make sure your ideas aren’t too broad…

With IR being such a multidisciplinary field, it is easy to get swarmed by thoughts. Just remember that you still have a word limit to follow! Writing an essay on climate change and international relations may be way too extensive of a subject. Instead, focus on something feasible yet related – like the Green Theory.

  • … But also not too specific!

At the same time, choosing a topic that is way too narrow could prove a challenge in its own right. You could encounter trouble in trying to find credible sources. You may find yourself at a loss for what to do for your next step. In this case, you might want to change the topic before it’s too late!

  • Strive to research.

If you have an idea that is interesting to you, this step will not be a problem. You need to be motivated to find enough valuable sources and write a high-quality essay. It helps to look at authors with differing points of view. This way, you’ll create a compelling argument.

These recommendations should help you write your IR essay. If you still have trouble choosing the right idea, let our topic generator do that for you.

13 International Relations Topics for Essay

Now that you know how to select the perfect topic for your essay, we can begin to do just that. Below you will find a list of 13 international relations essay topics. They will prove helpful in your homework or exam writing practice.

You can use these ideas:

  • Green Theory – environmental action in international relations.
  • How liberalism in British politics led to Brexit.
  • Idealism vs. realism in global diplomacy.
  • Technology as the silent factor in international relations.
  • Economic reasons for the start of World War II.
  • The International Monetary Fund in political economy.
  • The end of the Cold War through the perspective of realist theory.
  • A brief assessment of the International Law.
  • Regulation of international non-governmental organizations.
  • The role of soft and hard power in current international relations.
  • Modern diplomacy between the governments of Russia and China.
  • Feminist theories in the study of international relations.
  • A Marxist critique of globalization.

As it stands, this list could go on forever. We hope that we managed to illustrate just how diverse the ideas for an international relations essay could be.

5 International Relations Essay Questions

Even after reading through this step-by-step guide and all the topics, you may still find yourself hesitating. This isn’t surprising. The ideas that must be swirling in your head right now would overwhelm anyone!

Here you will find 5 international relations essay questions that will help direct your workflow:

1. What is the difference between classical realism and neorealism?

Introduce realist theory and outline its evolution. Explain the main ideas behind classical realism and neorealism. What were the reasons for the shift between theories?

2. What is the impact of Brexit on the European Union’s foreign policy?

Explain the concept of Brexit. Evaluate the relationship of the European Union with the UK before Brexit. Using literature, illustrate the difference between the EU foreign policy before and after Brexit.

3. Do multinational corporations exploit developing countries?

Outline what makes a corporation multinational. What makes a country developing? Evaluate the relative harms and benefits of a multinational corporation settling in a developing country. Refer to Marxist theory for that purpose. What do you think can be done to minimize the harm?

4. How useful is the distinction between absolute and comparative advantage?

Summarize the theory behind the terms. Compare and contrast the concepts of absolute and comparative advantage. In your opinion, how important is the difference between the two notions?

5. Is constructivism a valid theory in international relations?

Illustrate the ideas behind constructivism and the evolution of the theory. Contrast constructivism against other well-known frameworks. Justify whether you think it is useful.

We are not underestimating the importance of an international relations essay. It is an extensive and complicated field of study. Despite that fact, we still hope that you managed to find this guide useful! Now proceed to look through some international relations essay examples below.

Thank you for reading!

1078 Best Essay Examples on International Relations

Neorealism: kenneth waltz ‘theory of international politics’, gaza-israel conflict: history and portents, comparison between theories: realism vs. liberalism research paper.

  • Words: 1895

Nuclear Weapons Should Be Abolished

  • Words: 1095

International Peace and United Nations Essay

Israel palestine conflict.

  • Words: 1503

The Cold War and the Balance of Power Theory

  • Words: 10690

“Clash of Ignorance” by Edward Said

  • Words: 1128

Indian Modernization and Westernization

  • Words: 3322

Do the Benefits of Globalization Outweigh the Costs?

  • Words: 1056

The Role of Science and Technology in International Relations Regarding Climate Change

  • Words: 2504

Neorealism and Traditional Realism

The achievement of millennium development goals in india, a brief history of the conflict between india and pakistan.

  • Words: 1241

United Nations and World Peace

Peace and conflict resolution: external intervention, the israeli – palestinian conflict.

  • Words: 2608

Functionalist and Constructivist Approaches to Regionalism

  • Words: 1944

United Nations Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Words: 2763

Balance of Power Concept in International Relations

  • Words: 1352

The World’s Superpowers: Current, Former, Future

Schools of political economy: marxism, liberalism and mercantilism, international political economy – world systems analysis.

  • Words: 2758

Balance vs. Imbalance of Power International Relations

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Nationalism in International Relations

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Arrogance of Power

Wilsonian idealism and its relevance in today’s us, supra-state actors.

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Land Grabbing Causes and Problems

The third world: concept and controversy.

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The Democratic Peace Theory: Merits and Demerits

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Severe Problem of Congo

Is united nations organization useful or not useful nowadays.

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Wars in the Middle East

Collective security.

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Concepts for the study of Contemporary International Relations

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US Withdrawal of the Kyoto Protocol: Pros and Cons Analysis

International relations: events shaping the view, national interest is more significant than ideology in shaping foreign policy.

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Visa-free Entry to all Countries

Geopolitics: the middle east shatterbelt, human safety and all-round personal protection, the international problem of hiv/aids in modern world.

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The US-China relations

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United Arab Emirates and New Zealand Cooperation

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Arab Unity and Its Barriers and Obstacles

Does the american government bully the world.

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International Security Case Studies’ Analysis

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How Is Globalization Impacting Citizenship?

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Small Arms Trafficking and the Conflict in Uganda

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Vietnam and China’s Tense Relations

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Crucial Functions of State Borders

An introduction to global politics, the ‘periphery’ and the ‘core’ of the world.

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International Relations and Political Issues

Tnc as an important actor in global politics today.

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Accountability in the European Union

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Power and Interdependence

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World Food Program

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Maritime Piracy

Foreign policy and politics.

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Iran’s Influence on the Balance of Power in the Middle East

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Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

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Political and Economic Consequences of EU Enlargement

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Problems Facing the United Nations

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Humanitarian Intervention in International Society

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The United States as a Hegemonic Country

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Beginners Guide on International Relations Essay Topics

Updated 15 Feb 2024

Students who decide to study International Relations can help significantly in managing politics when they finish their studies. Choosing the right topic to deal with is essential, as it tackles one of the most burning issues.

International relations essay topics can sometimes be given by teachers, usually in lengthy lists that students can choose from. All of these assignments require outstanding research and a prolonged reading activity from the student and that's why you may ask "how can I write my essay with all these complicated guidelines?" and therefore seek out professional help on essay writing services such as Edubirdie.

These students must act as professional researchers in their local library and online to try and solve some unresolved issues from the past. Therefore, choosing just the right topic is essential as it can unlock and find solutions for burning issues from the past and apply them to the present and future.

This way, students of International Relations become politicians in a way, as they address and analyze deeply rooted problems and causes for conflict between nations.

What is an International Relations Essay?

The essence of an essay on the subject is that it aims to expand the students’ knowledge and further educate them. It is an essay where students convey great ideas from analyzing past events, and solutions are offered to be applied to the future of a nation.

They’re not just about finding a solution - they’re about finding the best solution. If you consider the Nuclear Deal of Iran, which you know the importance of, and have a written essay with an in-depth analysis of it, you may come to a better understanding of why it took place.

In such cases, the cause and effect essay topics are the best. You analyze the causes, see what effects they made, and write an essay covering the main reasons for why it happened precisely the way it did.

The structure of this type of paper is conventional and includes the following sections:

  • Introduction Includes some key issues, the problem to be discussed and the outline of the essay stages.
  • Main Body Has subheadings that break the entire essay into thematic sections. Includes key definition, facts, analysis and further discussion. Here is where all arguments are to be supported by the sources.
  • Conclusion Summary of the key points (in other words). Includes analytical conclusion and your final opinion.

Also, you may come and will come to a better understanding of what can be done to prevent such an event from ever occurring again. Choosing the right topic for International Relations isn’t always easy, which is why you can read the tips below followed by a 200-example list of essay topics.

Tips for Choosing International Relations Topics for an Essay

The following three tips should help each individual choose the best topic for your future writing.

  • Convey and combine ideas you already learned from your teacher and choose a topic you will be able to cover with the knowledge you already have at hand.
  • Choose a topic connected to a burning issue from the past but can connect to the present.
  • Choose a topic that requires research you can find online or in your local library.

Save your time! We can take care of your essay

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200 International Relations Essay Topics

Here’s a list of 200 creative and helpful essay topics for international relations:

  • America and its allies will benefit from rising China
  • Globalizations from a socio-economic point of view
  • Origins, objectives, and development of Al Qaeda
  • The conflict between America and Russia
  • The foreign policy of America
  • Cold War and American hegemony
  • The Iranian revolution and the influence of America on it
  • “Soft Power” Joseph Nye - analysis
  • The foreign policy of America - analysis
  • The importance of domestic policies and its relation to word’s situation
  • International trade legislation and anti-dumping as its necessary part
  • The analysis of decision making in foreign policies
  • International Relations, concepts, and study in the Caribbean
  • American involvement in Peru Tacna-Arica and Chile
  • Economy, politics, and history of China
  • Relations between China and Australia
  • International Relations in colonial times
  • Trade with Japan and Matthew Perry
  • Realist and constructivist perspectives on Darfur and Rwanda genocide
  • The global concept of security
  • The theoretical critique of constructionism
  • The 2014 crises - Ukraine and Crimea
  • Darwin’s evolutionary theory and International Relations
  • Communication across cultures
  • Conflicts between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in Cyprus
  • International students and their impact on world’s education system
  • Cooperation between world’s countries and their dynamics of change
  • The war of the Pacific and the early American-Chilean relations
  • The dispute between Japan and China over Senkaku Island - effects
  • Indonesian official tourism website - analysis
  • International Relations and ethics
  • China’s intervention in the African Continent - challenges
  • Youth Movement Protest - analysis
  • The future of the English language
  • World’s security committee and disarmament
  • International Relations and gender
  • American - German relations
  • Communication on a global level
  • International Relations and globalization
  • Regional Institutions and globalization
  • The new world group and Guyana
  • Bilateral relations through history
  • American foreign policy and South Sudan destabilization - effects
  • How can we achieve world peace?
  • International Relations - why do people choose to study them?
  • The impact of World’s Organizations on the US
  • International Relations and human nature
  • Human rights on the global discourse
  • The complete analysis of the humanitarian intervention
  • Relations between world’s countries, realism, and idealism
  • How does globalization affect people?
  • International Relations and the impact of the Great Depression on them in the 1930s
  • Public relations - analysis of world’s affairs
  • A complete analysis of global businesses
  • All about international communication
  • The UN and its global governance
  • Intercultural Relations’ international journal
  • A comprehensive analysis of global businesses and their impact on the world economy
  • Global Politics and International Relations
  • The three theories of International Relations
  • World Politics and its influence on an average citizen
  • Are International Relations a form of a moral compass?
  • International Relations from a realist and liberalistic point of view
  • Joseph S. Nye and Robert O. Keohane and their theory about world’s politics
  • Midterm International Relations
  • Asian business model and its influence on the global market
  • Djibouti International Relations
  • The Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the global affairs
  • Will there be more global businesses within the next 100 years?
  • Questions and answers about world’s politics and global businesses
  • Humanitarian intervention and word’s situation
  • The theories and liberalism of International Relations
  • The main theorists of International Relations
  • Terrorist attacks on September 11 and how they influence the world
  • International politics and hierarchy change
  • How humans perceive politics in past and present
  • America, Lebanon, and Beirut and the impact on the rest of the world
  • Engagement of Japan with China - what to expect in future
  • Why have populists become the reality of 21th century political arena?
  • International security on the example of different countries
  • World’s trade and globalization
  • Arabic and Chinese international relations - investigation and analysis
  • All about the affair Iran-Contra
  • Foreign direct investment and Ireland’s attractiveness
  • Did the desire for oil drive the US foreign policy in the Middle East?
  • India - an emerging power or not?
  • The UN and analysis of whether Turkey is ready to be a part of it?
  • Analysis of the future relations between China and America
  • All about the foreign policies of Latin America
  • Did mainstream global businesses exclude the diversity of issues and voices?
  • We must end the war before the war ends us
  • Using foreign policies to maximize national security
  • Turkey versus Afghanistan
  • International Relations and the negotiations related to it
  • International Relations as a framework to compare Liberalism and Neo-Realism
  • All about the migrant flow from Nepal to Qatar
  • A realistic interpretation of Korea’s world’s politics
  • Geopolitics - an overview
  • America and Russia during the Early Cold War - misperceptions and perceptions
  • The South African Government and the policy brief addressed to it about Intervention
  • Is the power of politics overestimated?
  • The Sea Region and its power
  • Overseas military bases and their common problems
  • An analysis of Public Diplomacy
  • The three types of realism - offensive, structuralist, and classical
  • Constructivism and realism
  • The Cold War - realism and liberalism
  • The 1994 Rwanda Genocide and realism
  • American and Iranian relations
  • What will global politics face in the near future?
  • Feminism and its influence on global politics and the perception of peace
  • Korean War - a detailed review
  • Saudi Arabia and its oil - benefits for the country
  • An analysis of the Scottish Separatist Movement
  • Will UK citizens regret Brexit within the next 50 years?
  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict and whether the United States should get involved
  • The embargo on Cuba - should America lift it?
  • The United Nations Security Council and whether veto power should be abolished
  • World’s politics and the participation of South Africa
  • Declining significance of sovereignty and why such cases still take place
  • Is there a chance to prevent war on the diplomatic level?
  • The Mathias Risse and Thomas Pogge debate - summary
  • Naming the Island - why is it so important for the Communist Party of China?
  • Terrorism and its global spread
  • The UN and the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
  • Haiti, Bosnia, and Somalia cases and their impact on the American foreign policy
  • Islam and its changing nature
  • The historical background of the Civil War in Sudan
  • The Soviet Union and its collapse - analysis
  • Is the Columbian Exchange a huge step towards globalization or not?
  • What Would the world look like if there was only one country?
  • Authoritarian and democratic states and their contrasting development
  • Why are nuclear weapons equally dangerous and needed?
  • All about Democratic Peace Theory
  • Human trafficking in South Africa and its devastating effects
  • American political and economic policies regarding Nafta, Wto, Balance of Trade and EU
  • Imperialism and its effects
  • A Via Media - all about the English School
  • Matteo Legranzi about the changing Middle East - Economic coordination, security, and diplomacy
  • How does Brexit influence other countries and their politics?
  • An analysis of the Good Neighbor Policy
  • What are the most significant causes of War?
  • The impact of International Relations and climate change on the Philippines
  • Global business and their impact on Zambia and China
  • Modern liberalism and its main features
  • How vital are military ethics in War?
  • Saudi Arabia and the importance of their oil
  • United Nations Security Council and its importance
  • Intergovernmental authority - all about its development
  • The order and disorder of the International System
  • Thomas Massaro and his description of the Just War Theory
  • Did the feminist approaches arrive late regarding International Relations Theory?
  • Economic future of Hong Kong
  • How does the maturation of war develop?
  • World politics and the negative impact of realism
  • International System and the New Sovereignty
  • Global politics and the effects of the Nixon Doctrine on them
  • How can humanity use historical facts to prevent losses in future?
  • How crucial are the problems of Oversea Military Bases?
  • The UN and its process of reformation
  • Globalization and the approach towards it
  • The notion of gender and its influence on global cooperation
  • Indian and Chinese raise - analysis
  • American Policy Stance for Iraq
  • International Relations - a realist approach
  • The UK and the UN relations
  • Global politics and the role of diplomacy in the 19th century
  • How crucial are the functions of the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations?
  • Second Industrial Revolution and world’s politics during that time
  • Skeptic theory of morality and period of its main influence
  • Relations between America and the UN
  • International Relations - a structural theory
  • Theories of past that took place in modern politics
  • The UK and the United Arab Emirates
  • The American Agency of International Development
  • Theory and foreign policy: any differences?
  • International theory and its three traditions
  • The impact of the Zimmerman Telegram on America in WWI
  • Creation of Israel and Truman
  • Turkey - between Islam and the West
  • South Africa and its labor relations, unemployment, and trade unions
  • Why do global politics influence each country separately?
  • Defense Policies and America
  • American foreign policies in the past and present
  • Chile and Peru and the involvement of America
  • How important is energy independence for America?
  • China and America - in conflict or cooperation?
  • The forthcoming between China and America
  • The Russo-Ukraine War
  • Prospects for cooperation and conflict regarding water in the Middle East
  • Djibouti - a road to a more substantial foothold
  • International Political Administration - its strengths and weaknesses
  • Security concerns and the Western states
  • China or Russia? - which is a more significant threat to American National Security
  • Why should I study International Relations?
  • Why is power in the center of realist perspectives?
  • The pact of non-aggression in 1939 - why did the Soviet Union sign it?
  • What are the benefits of a good neighbour policy?
  • How imperialism affected global politics and trade
  • The Gulf and its Internal Relations

Essay Examples Relevant to International Relations

  • International Relations
  • Globalization
  • Foreign Policy
  • International Trade
  • Human Rights

Understanding what this type of paper is about and its importance can help an individual see that choosing the right essay topics for international relations is essential. The tips listed above and the lengthy list of topics should help each individual look for the best International Relations topics.

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176 International Relations Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on international relations, ✍️ international relations essay topics for college, 👍 good international relations research topics & essay examples, 📌 easy international relations essay topics, 🎓 most interesting international relations research titles, ❓ international relations essay questions.

  • Feminist Theory and International Relations
  • Global Governance: Advantages and Disadvantages
  • The Cold War in Realism Theory
  • Discourse Analysis in International Relations
  • Hypothesis Writing: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Human Rights Role in International Relations
  • Realism in Today’s International Relations
  • International System and International Society Relations This paper responds to the query of whether people live in an international system or international society. It first explores the difference between the two perspectives.
  • International Relations Theories of Russia-Ukraine War The war between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the Third World War can be explained from the point of view of theories of international relations.
  • Karl Marx and International Relations Theories The major contributions of Karl Marx to the field of IR relates to two significant theories: dependency theory and world-systems theory.
  • The Main Problems That Face Collective Security Systems The need for security enabling alliances has been said to be absolutely necessary even in the contemporary world.
  • The Effect Technology on International Relations With information technology, different countries have come to realize the benefits of trade; for sustainable trade, good relations among the trading partners are required.
  • America as the Sole Superpower The paper will examine American foreign policy and analyze the extent to which this country remains a superpower.
  • Israeli-Palestine Conflict and Global Community The paper describes the causes of the Israeli-Palestine conflict and discusses what historians have claimed as the role of the wider international community in the conflict.
  • International System and International Society The paper intends to identify the tools that can conceptualize the international system and international society and hence clear distinctions between the terms provided.
  • Israeli-Palestinian Warfare: The Gaza Conflict The Gaza Conflict is one of the many conflicts within the Israeli-Palestinian warfare. The Gaza strip has been under attack for decades.
  • Theories of World International Relations Different theories of international relations will be examined in this paper and then they will be compared and contrasted to ascertain the best practices in this regard.
  • United Nations in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict In some cases, the UN has played a major role in contributing to conflicts. One such case is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that still remains an issue to this day.
  • Peace in Islam and International Relations Islam promotes social harmony and peacemaking nationally. Internationally, Islamic teaching encourages peace, unity, and mutual respect among various populations.
  • International Realism, Pluralism and Structuralism Realism, pluralism and structuralism are all the conceptual frameworks used in the international political economy and social research in political science.
  • Dependency Theory in International Political Economy Dependence is a corollary to dominance. Least developed nations depend on developed countries for domestic and international policies to stimulate their own growth.
  • Ethics in International Affairs To eradicate ethical challenges when formulating international relations, we should avoid applying traditional ethics that are not effective.
  • Globalization and Democratization Relationship This paper explores the existing relationship between democracy and globalization. It focuses on democratization, globalization and their imperativeness.
  • International Relations: The Balkan Crisis 1912-13 The Balkan wars are of great historical significance. The Balkan crisis is appropriate in testing realism and liberalism as theories of international relations.
  • The Social Theory of Constructivism in International Relations Constructivism loudly declared itself in the 90s of the last century and became the main methodological framework for studying international relations for the entire decade.
  • The Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty: Causes and Effects The research analyzes the roles of Sadat and the UN in the process of signing the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and altering Egypt’s political and economic alignment.
  • The English School of International Relations: Theory Review The English school of international relations contributed enormously to the development of the existing theories. The theory observes that a society of states exist at the global arena.
  • International Relations Article Review The role of consumer and corporate strength of rich nations in the growth of shadow economies is stated and its changes due globalization critically analyzed.
  • Consular Service and Collaboration in the 21st Century In the context of globalization, consular collaboration acquires particular interest as it is meant to develop a variety of international links and support national ex-pats abroad.
  • Japan-US International Trade Relationship Through the example of the Japan-US trade relationship, this paper will analyze the importance of a proper assessment of a nation’s and its partner’s economy.
  • Brazil and the United States Relations To understand the conflicts between Brazil and the US, this research has identified Brazil’s social-economic and political position in the South American continent.
  • Toyota Company’s Management and International Relations When selecting a country in which the factory should be opened, Toyota should pay attention to its legislature, judicial system, and attitude toward foreign investors.
  • Brexit Effects on the UK and International Relations This article will discuss the aftermath of Brexit. The referendum did not only impact the relationship between the EU and Britain but also resulted in the divided UK.
  • The US-Australia Cooperation and Its Implications The alliance between the US and Australia provides support for Australia in economics and politics, yet it is also binding regarding Australia’s relationships with other states.
  • Conflict Resolutions in Northern Ireland and Cyprus This paper explains the rationale behind mediation based on the resolution efforts made in Cyprus and Northern Ireland.
  • The Arab Spring and American Response to It The paper looks into issues considered in the process of forming a political reaction of the USA to the Arab Spring, and factors justifying a military intervention.
  • International Relations Theories: A Foundation for the National Security Policymaking Process The present paper outlined the connection between the challenges in national security policymaking processes and realist and liberal theories of international relations.
  • The Foremost Problem Confronting United Nations Organization There can little doubt as to the fact that the most significant problem confronting the Organization of United Nations (U.N.) is this organization’s operational ineffectiveness.
  • An Alliance With America Analysis The paper will focus on the nature of the United States power and how this power is used to influence countries to become allies of the country.
  • Is the United States a Benevolent Hegemon or a Malevolent Hegemon? The United States has been embroiled in world politics for more than a hundred years. In that regard, its foreign policy has been a major investment with regard to time and money.
  • Oil as a Political Weapon in the Middle East The relatively large impact of the oil issue in international relations should be explained by at least several reasons. First, all countries strive to provide energy security.
  • Anarchy and Rationalism in International Relations This paper discusses the meaning of anarchy concept in international relations and examines rational choice approaches to the study of politics.
  • Pakistan-US Relations Post-Cold War Relations between Pakistan and the United States have been tumultuous since the 1950s, a trend that continued after the Cold War ended in 1991.
  • Vietnam Decolonization’s Impacts on the International Relations Decolonization was an instrumental factor to major changes that took place in the place world politics, particularly the decolonization of Vietnam given the geostrategic position.
  • The Cold War: International Relations between 1945 and 1989 During the Cold War period, international relations were characterized by rivalry, tension, self interest and the competition for nuclear supremacy.
  • The Russian Foreign Policy The Russian policy that allowed it to support the rebels in Eastern Ukraine fails to meet the legal and moral standards. It has completely destabilized Eastern Ukraine.
  • The Need to Reform the United Nations Security Council France is one of the five permanent Security Council members; it would be in our best interest if France is part of the members advocating for reforms.
  • Refugees and International Relations: Annotated Bibliography The main question posed in the article is how critical institutional and strategic thinking is instrumental in understanding the fundamental cause of forced migration.
  • COVID-19 Impact on Australia’s International Relations The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the equilibrium, and Australian foreign policy responded by becoming more assertive and taking a distinctive anti-Chinese stance.
  • Chinese Media and International Relations There is a considerable extent of evidence that Chinese media possess a notable influence on modern international relations.
  • Waltz and Machiavelli Thoughts on International Relation and Politics This paper will discuss the similarities and analysis of Waltz and Machiavelli’s thoughts on international relations and politics.
  • Realism as a Convincing Theory of International Relations Political realism is a convincing theory of international relations. Principles of realism work in many countries, supporting their courses of action.
  • Idealism versus Realism in International Politics The idealists believe in selfless human character, the likelihood of improving culture. Realists deem that ethics and virtues are a barrier to the quest for state power.
  • The United States Foreign Policy in the Middle East This research paper discusses the impacts of hegemonic foreign policy in the Middle East and contemplates the effects of the region’s withdrawal or minimal foreign policy.
  • The United States Foreign Policy Actors It is prudent to approach the U.N., NATO, and E.U. as the foreign policy actors. The main reason for engaging these three actors is that they handle various issues.
  • International Relationships During Cold War Cold War can be categorized as one of the most prominent occurrences in the international relationships of the 20th century.
  • The Netherlands: Coronabonds Controversy The purpose of this presentation is to explore the Netherlands’ position on “coronabonds” and analyze its consequences.
  • United States Foreign Policy Doctrine The significance of the U.S. role in foreign affairs cannot be underestimated, as it has the most advanced and developed chain of diplomatic embassies.
  • Negotiation’s Strategy: Conflict Between Basran and Carpathia Negotiations will be conducted at the highest level. The disputed issue is a territorial type of conflict between Basran and Carpathia that has been escalating for twenty years.
  • International Relations Professionals in Government International Relations help evaluate the current political state in the country and the world, if not more, determine a step-by-step development of these processes.
  • Using International Relations Theories to Predict the Future Communications With Aliens The paper argues that classical liberalists’ prediction of international cooperation and somewhat peaceful communication with aliens is more convincing.
  • North Korean Nuclear Proliferation North Korea is a failing state that is increasingly dependent on its nuclear weapons for deterrence of outside intervention, for both internal and external leverage.
  • Khashoggi in the US and Saudi Arabia Relations The assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2, 2018, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, turned into a serious test of the strength of relations between Riyadh and the US.
  • US and Afghanistan: Diplomatic Ties and New Policy With the implementation of Obama’s strategy, international cooperation in tackling international terrorism will be strengthened.
  • The U.S. International Affairs The world doesn’t see the US as a leader, which hints at the fact that resurgence is essential for the country that repeatedly viewed diplomatic ties as inferior to military power.
  • “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics Of Energy” and “The Pentagon’s New Map” This paper aims to analyze “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics Of Energy” by Michael Klare And Thomas Barnet’s Lecture On “The Pentagon’s New Map”.
  • How Realists Explain International Relations This paper focuses on different approaches of realism in relation to international relations and offers an opinion towards the pragmatism made by these practical approaches.
  • International Relations: Why Is There More Than One Theory? There are four theoretical traditions in international relations, these constitutes of realism, liberalism or idealism, international society, and international political society.
  • Comparative Foreign Policy of Morocco and America The U.S. foreign policy consists of different sets of rules that guide the manner in which the nation relates with the international community.
  • Russia’s Influence on the European Neighborhood Policy In this work, the author tries to determine the degree of Russia’s influence on the European Neighborhood Policy and the dynamics of relations between the ENP member countries.
  • Notable International Actors and Their Specific Roles The essay identifies vital international actors and identifies their specific roles and characteristics. In addition, US actions in dealing with terrorism shall also be examined.
  • U.S. Policy to Iraq From 9/11/2001 to U.S.-Iraq War The U.S policy had shifted sharply towards ensuring Iraq never made such weapons of mass destruction and also to ensure Saddam’s ultimate down fall.
  • Powerful States and Humanitarian Intervention Response Humanitarian intervention is best understood as the process of engaging in military intervention by one state into another state to minimize suffering in the recipient country.
  • The EU-Moldova International Relations A stronger relationship between the EU and Moldova replaced the “outdated Partnership and Cooperation Agreement”. In addition, the EU liberalized trade with Moldova.
  • International Business: The US – UAE Relationship This paper has proposed the USA as chosen country of expatriates living here originated from UAE for the product of Arabic style furniture.
  • US Policy During 1967 and 1973 Middle East Wars The U.S. and the Soviet Union had become archenemies in the Cold War and both were anxious to spread their conflicting social visions everywhere.
  • The United States’ Involvement with Weak States This paper attempts to explore the motives which draw the United States to intervene in weak states with specific reference to historical situations.
  • Cuba Policy During Barrack Obama’s Presidency The recent olive branch by the Obama administration extended to the Cuban President has created an opportunity to come to diplomatic terms with the United States.
  • Politics of the Global Economy International Relations The politics of the Global economic authority is in complete disorder and simultaneously reform processes are much required.
  • Isolationism and Franklin Delano Roosevelt The great depression and isolationism demanded new international policies and relations that would help America to overcome the economic crisis.
  • United States Embargo Against Cuba The United States made the move and put into effect the trade embargo in the year 1958 after a vicious armed conflict erupted in Cuba between the Batista government and rebels.
  • The Israeli and the Palestinian People in Conflict The conflict from the 1920’s to the present day. Having looked at the origin of the war, the paper will address the issues of the causes and the effects the conflict has had on the Israeli and the Palestinian people.
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  • US Military Overseas Commitments North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance which was formed by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in the year 1949.
  • China’s Foreign Policies and Influence on East Asia The main topic of this paper touches on China and regional integration in East Asia and the challenges that must be overcome.
  • America’s Strategy in East Asia in 2008 The strategy of the USA towards East Asia entails security, economy, investment and demography (migration).The weakest point of the strategy is the military angle in general.
  • Political Science. Canada’s Dependency on the United States This essay discusses the level of dependency of Canada on the United States and how this issue is affecting the two countries.
  • The Global Dispute of Pakistan and India as to Kashmir The Kashmir conflict is directed to the global dispute of Pakistan and India as to Kashmir which is considered to be the region of Indian Territory.
  • International Monetary Relations and Cooperation While global capital convertibility and openness of the economy may be positive trends, yet, a new global economic order is the need of the times.
  • Law in International Relations: The Avena Case The Avena case started on 31 March 2004 with the United States’ defeat in the international law arena, illustrates the attitude of the US to the imperative of international law.
  • The India–United States India Nuclear Treaty Analysis of India-US nuclear treaty and the hypothesis that the treaty would bring about drastic changes to the power equations and international relations among the Asian countries.
  • Israel’s Creation and Settlements in Palestine Israeli settlements in Palestine and their legal status are among the most disputable topics today. The majority of countries do not regard the settlements as valid and legal.
  • Conflict Between Jews and Arabs in Palestine 1947-1948 The main cause of conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine was essentially a struggle for right to access land and the freedom of the people to reside in Palestine.
  • International System During the Cold War Era The basic characteristic of the international system during the Cold War era is its duo-polarity nature characterized by the ideological war of the two most powerful nations.
  • China’s Crisis, Global Economy and Relations According to the theory of neorealism and neoliberalism, a significant crisis in China can lead to a global economic crisis and the increased cooperation between states.
  • The Arab Spring Influences on Morocco The purpose of this paper is to conduct thorough research about the Arab Spring and its implications and to observe how those movements influenced Morocco.
  • Role of Irgun in Disrupting Peace The peace process targeted at eliminating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and multi-dimensional.
  • Gulf Cooperation Council – India Relations The Gulf region presents a myriad of natural, political, economic, and strategic opportunities and interests of India.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for China-US Relationships The aim of this paper was to give insight into the events surrounding the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the impact of its abandonment on Chinese Americans.
  • Canada-United States Security Partnership The frontier between the US and Canada is an essential part of the economic relationships between the two countries.
  • United States-Iran Relations and Future Conflict The report identifies whether a purchase of ballistic missiles contributes to a probability of future conflict between the United States and Iran.
  • United States-China Relations and Future Conflict This paper aims to examine power transitions between the U.S. and China and to determine risk factors that can be further utilized for pricing purchases of the company.
  • The Impact of the United States Embassy Move on the Palestinian People While Palestinians argue that the occupied land should belong to their deterritorialized nation, Israelis disagree, proclaiming it as their own.
  • The History of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict The United States recognizes and supports Israel as a country which has the rightful claim to the historical land of the Jewish people.
  • International Relationships and Foreign Policy in American Movies Hotel Rwanda, The Terminal, and Argo are the movies where foreign policies and international relations of the U.S. are traced and explained to demonstrate the status of the country and its role in the global arena.
  • Chinese and American Engagement in Africa China’s engagement in Africa encompasses investment, aid, and trade, and it has resulted in economic growth, improved foreign relations, and the development of new infrastructure.
  • Israeli Settlements in Palestine: Legal Issues Israel was created to settle Jews in the lands separated from Palestine. The conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Jews has not been resolved, and it can be observed even today.
  • Israeli Settlement in Palestine: Conflict Nowadays The state of Israel was established following U.N. Resolution 181 in 1947. This situation has led to the development of the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Jews.
  • American Foreign Policy Exporting Democracy American foreign policy is designed to meet several international goals but the priority areas over the years have been national security and defense.
  • Rising vs. Declining Powers in International Arena Small powers have limited economic and military strengthens. On the other hand, middle and super powers have significant economic and military strengthens such as the US.
  • International Relations: History and Nature Global interdependence provides peace. However, world regions are not entirely exclusive in advantage that would promote interdependence.
  • The US in the International Arena As of right now, the U.S. is interested in establishing its foothold in Syria, in order to use this country, as the base for spreading chaos to Iran, and consequently to Russia and China.
  • Asian International Politics and Military Conflicts The Cold War mentality of Japan was that of strengthening ties with Western powers to contain other Asian emerging powers.
  • The US and Middle Eastern States’ Cooperation There are some areas of close cooperation between the US and some Middle Eastern states. However, there are areas of serious tensions that have marred this relationship.
  • International Relations in Europe and North Africa International relations refer to the study of how countries relate to one another. This paper seeks to provide a reaction to articles related to international relations.
  • Japan’s Decision to Attack Pearl Harbor in 1941 The paper explains Japan’s Perl Harbour using two theories: the balance of power theory, favored by neo-realists, and the economic interdependence theory.
  • The European Union’s Preference of Soft Power The EU prefers using soft power mechanisms because it is aware that its economic, social, cultural and other standards and development are attractive to other nations and regions.
  • What Factors Led to the Indian Pakistan Conflict? The Kashmir conflict has been evolving with time and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint one reason for the war. One may look at it as an effort to protect the rights of India.
  • The 2011 NATO Intervention in Libya The first revolts in Libya in 2011 were developed with the aim to overthrow the rule of Muammar el Qaddafi and under the influence of the Arab Spring movement.
  • The US-Russia Ongoing Confrontation At the present time, the U.S. and Russia are being commonly referred to as the ‘arch enemies’, which are bound to clash militarily in the future.
  • Iran’s Nuclear Energy and Relations with Israel The fact that Iran has questioned the existence of Israel as Jews homeland and threatened to annihilate it has further complicated the issue.
  • Russian Involvement Effects in Eastern Ukraine This paper will outline American and Russian sides of the story, with respect to what should be deemed the actual nature of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and what are this involvement’s effects.
  • International Relations: The Coming of the Micro-States States that aspire to disintegrate should have valid and convincing reasons before they are allowed independence to avoid unnecessary reorganization of borders.
  • The European Union’s Security Issues The current security strategies used by the EU has attracted a lot of interest from regions perceived to be hostile towards the United States, for instance, the Middle East.
  • The UAE and Europe’ Work for Integration of Refugees This paper discusses how can the UAE and Europe work together to further the integration of refugees from Syria, Libya, and Iraq and prevent radicalization.
  • Russian Comeback into the International Arena Russia’s comeback as a global player has been characterized by its determination in multi-polarity overseas and creation of an autonomous democracy at home.
  • Global Organisations’ Impact on International Relations The paper discusses the emergence of the discipline of international relations followed by the emergence of international organisations.
  • US Foreign Affairs in the Middle East The presence of the US in the Middle East was based on safeguarding its national security interests and ensuring that the nation’s interests are met.
  • Powerful States’ Influence on Poorer States The most powerful states have more opportunities to preserve their autonomy on the global arena than poorer states.
  • Venezuela and Colombia Relationships The relationship between Venezuela and Colombia was initially hinged on the fact they both got their independence under Simon Bolivar although they separated into two states in the 19th century.
  • Politics: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations A world region is defined by the interconnectedness of areas based on social, economic, political, and cultural orientation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is one such region.
  • Ukrainian Crisis: Russian, American, European Views The situation in Ukraine is viewed differently by the United States, the European Union, and Russia due to the different backgrounds of the societies.
  • Causes of War: Comparative Politics and Peace Studies The essay seeks to prove that the study of comparative politics and peace studies are most applicable in understanding the causes of war and ways of enhancing peace in the world.
  • Gulf States, International Trade and Security World security is closely linked to international commerce. A military approach for purposes of deterrence and achievement of security in the Gulf is the most preferable approach.
  • The European Union’s Role in the Middle East Peace One of the aspects of today’s geopolitical reality is the fact that the scope of the EU’s activities in the Middle East assumes qualitatively new subtleties.
  • China and Africa’ Relations The formal relations between China and Africa date back to the 1950s. This paper describes the trade and political relations between China and Africa that have resulted in shared benefits.
  • China-Africa Trade and Political Relations China and Africa have been economic and political allies for many years. This paper discusses trade and political relations between China and Africa.
  • Cuba’s International Policies and Relationships The following essay analyzes Cuba’s foreign policies to determine how they affect and are influenced by other nations.
  • Global Governance from China’s Perspective The geopolitical rise of China results in prompting more and more political scientists to reassess the soundness of the concept of ‘global governance’.
  • Economic Effects of Brexit The paper identifies and describes the impacts of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union to its economy, political positions, and international relations.
  • China as Africa’s Partner and Not a Colonial Power China’s interest in Africa is founded on finding a source of raw materials for its rapidly growing manufacturing sector and securing a ready market for its products.
  • China–Africa Relations: Economic Consequences China is regarded as one of the largest producing countries and the problem that attracts a lot of attention of researchers is related to the fact that it is expanding its influence in Africa.
  • Nuclear Arms Control: Unsuccessful Efforts This essay describes the role played by nuclear weapons in deterring vertical and horizontal proliferation by the nations in the international arena.
  • Emerging Powers and World Order This article shows that while the dynamics of international politics are likely to change through emerging powers, liberalist institutions and the world order will still remain.
  • US – Iran Relations: Tactics and Effects The relation between Iran and the US dates back to many years ago. There are reports which indicate that this relation can be traced back to the last years of the 19th century.
  • International Relations: Korean Conflict and US Economy The Korean Conflict was a domestic and armed war that took place in the Korean Peninsula. The conflict was between the North and South Korea.
  • What Is the Study of International Relations Concerned With?
  • What Are the Three C’s of International Relations?
  • Is Global Affairs the Same as International Relations?
  • What Are the Institutions That Govern International Relations?
  • What Is the Difference Between International Studies and International Relations?
  • What Is the Role of International Relations Theories in Global Issues?
  • What Is Idealism in International Relations?
  • How Does International Relations Affect People’s Daily Life?
  • What Is International Relations in Political Science?
  • How Did the Cold War Shape Postwar International Relations?
  • What Are Norms in International Relations?
  • What Are the Main Issues of International Relations?
  • When Did International Relations Start?
  • Do State Governors Get Involved in International Relations?
  • What Is the Difference Between Political Science and International Relations?
  • What Is Unipolarity in International Relations?
  • Which International Relations Theory Believes There Is No Explicit or Consistent National Interest?
  • How Did the Congress of Vienna Change International Relations?
  • What Is Power Politics in International Relations?
  • How Is Deterrence in International Relations?
  • Why Is the Security Dilemma Important to International Relations?
  • What Is Constructivism in International Relations?
  • Why Is It Important to Study Political Science and International Relations?
  • What Is World Order in International Relations?
  • What Resource Has a Significant Effect on International Relations?
  • How Did the Berlin Blockade Affect International Relations?
  • Is Patriotism Ultimately Destructive or Constructive to International Relations?
  • Is Marxism Relevant to Contemporary International Relations?
  • Who Is the Main Actor in International Relations?
  • How Is the Understanding of International Relations Shaped?

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StudyCorgi . "176 International Relations Essay Topics." May 18, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/ideas/international-relations-essay-topics/.

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Promotion of International Relations

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Explaining The European Political Cooperation

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Current Relationship of International Tourism with Dark Tourism and Implications of Future Trends

Importance of foreign aid in developing nations, america's leadership position at an international stage, impact of the qatar crisis on european union, russia, and the united states of america, the story of trying to achieve success - the league of nations, the relationship between the united states and chile, the creation of complex societies and empires in europe and asia, the effectiveness of international cooperation in addressing transnational environmental issues, diplomatic relations of united states with china, the united states and north korea agreement, the diplomatic relations between the kingdom of the netherlands and romania, diplomatic relations of united states with north korea, cuban missile crisis as a world changing event, north korea diplomatic relations, relations between china and nigeria, beginning of the cuban missile crisis, the south china sea disputes, a trade war of the dragon and the eagle, peru-mexico relations: the importance of economic development, settlement of two state solution with regard to israel palestine conflict, relevant topics.

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International Relations Essay Examples & Topics

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The Role of International Organizations in Promoting Global Peace and Security

1. Introduction The system of international organizations was created in order to support efforts aimed at protecting peace and security, by promoting economic, social, and cultural cooperation and resolving disputes between states. International organizations have also been "encouraged to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." Over the years of existence of the contemporary world order, which is based on t ...

Conflict Analysis in International Relations: Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Global Disputes

1. Introduction to Conflict Analysis in International Relations Pacific settlements of international disputes typically require the mutual consent of the parties involved. No society of states can afford to rely solely on the healthy effects of a consensual approach. Power considerations often tip the balance between peace and war. They influence the course of negotiations to avoid conflicts and the attempts of peaceful settlement once conflict has broken out. When talking about peace, one woul ...

The Impact of Globalization on Human Rights: An Analysis of Casos y Challenges

1. Introduction The relationship between globalization and human rights is a pressing issue which affects many of the most central social and political questions of our day. Yet, very few publications have explicitly treated the relationship, and those few that do often come at it from opposing ideological perspectives. With this in mind, we hope to contribute to the understanding of the relationship between these two phenomena and to contribute to greater understanding of the relationship by e ...

The Impact of Foreign Intervention on the Political Stability of Latin American Countries

1. Introduction In recent years, Latin American countries have had military interventions in the political affairs of their neighbors at a frequency and a degree of success never before known. Military intervention has been used to oust unpopular rulers, to impose political ideology, or to satisfy foreign political interests. In spite of the profound effects of military intervention on both the domestic and foreign policy problems of both the arbitrating government and the country involved, ver ...

The Influence of Mexico on United Nations Policies and Global Affairs

1. Introduction The Mexican foreign policy has been many different things, depending on the time frame considered in the analysis. With a history that goes from isolation to adhesion to a large number of international institutions, and from being characterized by being strongly based on the respect to international law reigning the community of nations in a bipolar world, Mexico has undertaken major changes and shifts in its foreign policy. At the same time, Mexico had a foremost role during th ...

The Impact of Political Corruption in the Development of Latin American Countries

1. Introduction The term corruption can have a multitude of meanings and connotations. The most common denominator is that corruption reflects behavior and activities relating to the dishonest use of position for the purpose of favoring personal interests over the public interest. This same position can be exercised for the benefit of the general group rather than for private interests. We could say then that in essence corruption can reflect dishonest behavior of a public official that contrib ...

El impacto del movimiento de la independencia en América Latina

1. Introducción A lo largo de nuestra historia, América Latina se ha caracterizado por un conjunto de etapas en la evolución de cada uno de los estados hacia la independencia. La lucha por emanciparse duró varias décadas. Durante la misma, se produce un cambio en las estructuras sociales y en las fases socioeconómicas latinas; las nacientes clases principales superaron su resistencia inicial al significado de la independencia mediante cambios en los diseños y capacidad de las estrategias implan ...

The Influence of Machiavelli and His Political Theories on Modern Governance

1. Introduction In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book on statecraft with the intention of impressing Lorenzo de Medici, the deposed dictator of Florence, and thus gaining the favor of this sovereign prince in returning the republic with the democratic tendencies of the humanist to the Medicean party. In so doing, he also intended to secure a position with the Medici himself. The results, however, were not as intended for Machiavelli's book caused an explosion of protests and against him, wh ...

El papel del presidente de los Estados Unidos en las relaciones internacionales

1. Introducción El papel del presidente de los Estados Unidos en las relaciones internacionales es crucial, no solo debido a que el presidente es el jefe del Estado con mayor visibilidad internacional, sino porque cuenta con amplias atribuciones que le permiten ser la voz y el rostro del país en el escenario internacional. Como ejemplo de estas competencias podemos tomar la posibilidad de firmar tratados internacionales con el Reino del otro firmante (compitiendo de este modo con el Senado), po ...

El impacto de las elecciones presidenciales en el 2024 en la política internacional

1. Introducción La política internacional no es ajena a los complejos procesos electorales de los países. A pocos días de que se celebren las elecciones primarias de los partidos Demócrata y Republicano, para escoger a los candidatos a las elecciones presidenciales del 2024, desde distintos puntos del mundo, se siguen atentamente estos acontecimientos que tendrán gran influencia en el multilateralismo, la geopolítica y el comercio. En medio de esta atención permanente, las agencias de inteligen ...

Análisis crítico de la evolución y aplicación del derecho internacional público en la resolución de conflictos globales

1. Introducción al Derecho Internacional Público Toda esta evolución se debe al transcurso del tiempo, puesto que el Derecho Internacional Público en la antigüedad se centraba en las relaciones entre los distintos Estados y las disposiciones de las autoridades internacionales, como podían ser la Iglesia, las Órdenes militares, las Órdenes comerciales, entre otros, tanto en su vertiente jurisdiccional como en la administrativa. No es hasta la finalización de la Edad Media, entre los siglos dieci ...

The Influence of Historical Leaders on Modern Society

1. Introduction The entity that we know today as the United States of America was founded upon a collection of values that were agreed upon by some of history's most notable men. Many of these leaders were greatly influenced by the societal interests philosophers of their time. In the case of the United States, a principal interest was in the rejection of the monarchical form of government that had been so injurious to the population of the colonies. Now, the United States has compiled an impre ...

Analyzing the Impact of Globalization: A Comparative Study of Different Countries' Case Studies

1. Introduction Globalization is such a commonly used term; it is currently the 'buzz word' in current affairs focusing on international trends. Everything from politics and economics to agriculture and trade to communication and culture to everyday life can be affected. The precise definition of globalization is difficult to clearly set out since it can refer to something very specific or might be very general in nature. However, the scope and nature of globalization can be viewed from differe ...

The Importance and Challenges of La Démocratie in Modern Society

1. Introduction In his latest book, "La Démocratie," published in 2014, Rosanvallon has analyzed a series of challenges of democracy as it was thought and practiced. The goal is to provide a diagnosis of the problems of democracy in present-day society and propose new directions for democratic thinking and its current practices. The tradition of democratic theory is undergoing a crisis. Representative democracy and the welfare state linked to it are subject to widespread criticism. The crisis o ...

The Impact of World War 2 on Global Politics and Economy in the 20th Century: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Events from 1939 to 1946

1. Introduction The concept of World War II, which is frequently personified as the clash between good and evil, is the story of millions who were affected for numerous reasons. The war changed the perceptions of many people about the world. The era that begins late in 1939, and for Turkey in 1941, when the country experienced its longest conflict, can be seen as a turning point in global politics. The global political map was going to change gradually due to the inevitable change in the global ...

Assessing international relations in undergraduate education

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Published: 06 May 2020
  • Volume 20 , pages 345–358, ( 2021 )

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international relations essays research papers

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This paper advocates a holistic approach to assessing international relations in undergraduate education, which revolves around: (a) essays and (b) active learning-related tasks, such as simulation reflective statements/reports and performance. The paper argues that, on the one hand, academic essays are far from irrelevant and it is difficult to overestimate their practical significance. On the other hand, active learning-related tasks are best utilised as a supplementary assessment, expanding the students’ range of transferable skills. The assessment structure advocated in this paper results from a holistic approach to assessment design, which includes teacher’s own experience, familiarity with pedagogical scholarship and input from students. This last element is the least common even though it makes sense to understand how students see their own assessment. To that end, the paper shares the results of a pilot project run at one of the UK universities, which engaged students as partners in rethinking their assessment.

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Integrating Assessment Effectively into International Fieldwork: A Case Study Using Student-Led Teaching and Learning

international relations essays research papers

Educational Renovations: Nailing Down Terminology in Assessment

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This paper aims to serve as one of the reference points for international relations (IR) teachers who are interested in enhancing their teaching practices—or at least making their pedagogical choices more conscious. By no means is it the first contribution of this kind, but it does take stock of the existing teaching and learning literature in IR. The paper also offers original contribution on how to design IR assessment in undergraduate education, which is a slightly underdeveloped topic but one of foremost importance to students. To that end, the paper suggests a holistic framework for assessment design, and in that context, it shares the experience of running a pilot initiative involving politics and IR students at a UK university in shaping how they are assessed. The paper begins by reappraising the scholarship on assessment in IR, although the boundaries are blurred here and most literature deals with teaching and learning IR in general, rather than scrutinising the assessment element. Unsurprisingly, most debates concern innovative approaches to IR teaching and learning, most notably simulations. This paper explores simulations as a potentially beneficial teaching activity and advocates considering this and similar active learning methods in the context of the holistic framework for assessing learning outcomes. In the second section, the paper discusses the proposed holistic approach to designing assessment, which involves building on one’s own experience, catching up with the pedagogical scholarship and working together with students in order to obtain a better understanding of the local learning culture. This last point is further developed in the subsequent section, which reports on the experiment in forming a staff–student partnership for enhancing assessment and feedback practices. The final part of the paper explains the two-tier assessment strategy for undergraduate IR teaching, followed by the limitations of the framework presented in this paper accompanied by possible solutions.

Assessment in IR: state of the art

The question of assessment, including its purpose, format and feedback, has long been at the centre of undergraduate student learning. Not only are the examinations, essays and other summative assignments crucial for awarding degrees, but assessment also has a defining role in shaping the patterns of student life at a university. Several foundational studies in the USA and UK revealed, as early as in the 1970s, the extent to which students care, or even obsess about assessment. Making the Grade (Becker et al. 1968 ) pointed to the so-called GPA (grade point average) perspective, signifying the finding that very few students are genuinely interested in the process of learning, as opposed to strategising about achieving the highest grades. The Hidden Curriculum (Snyder 1971 ) famously exposed the importance, from the students’ perspective, of the informal rules about navigating the landscape of studying for a degree. Finally, Up To the Mark: A Study of the Examination Game (Miller and Parlett 1974 ) famously identified students as cue-seekers, cue-conscious or cue-deaf, depending on how well attuned they are to what they think is actually expected in assessment.

All those studies, together with the plethora of subsequent publications, point to the fact that students care great deal about assessment. In this context, it is rather surprising that almost no academic publications focus on how to assess IR in higher education. This absence may also affect other academic subjects, but what makes it interesting in IR is the fact that there is substantive literature on the teaching and learning of IR as such. Almost all that literature, however, revolves around innovative methods for engaging teaching delivery, with the bulk of analysis focusing on simulations (e.g. Kaunert 2009 ). This emphasis on simulations is hardly surprising. After all, nation states serve as a point of departure, as well as remain the focal point throughout the entire IR module delivery. Even when the overarching argument is that states are not the only meaningful actors in IR, concepts such as globalisation or global governance are still considered against the core notion of sovereign nation states. Just like the nation states, individual students possess different qualities, enjoy some degree of autonomy and are constrained and enabled by a variety of structural and individual “variables”.

Consequently, simulations can offer students a glimpse into the “real” world of international politics, bringing the more abstract contents of an IR module to live. Still, setting up and running simulations in a way which supports student learning and learning objectives are far from straightforward and involve risks. For example, one key question concerns evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of available simulation models, such as Statecraft. Statecraft is a commercial, ready-made and fully online simulation of international politics, making strides into IR classrooms around the world (Carvalho 2014 ; Epley 2016 ; Linantud and Kaftan 2018 ; Raymond 2014 ; Saiya 2016 ). In module evaluations, students repeatedly say that Statecraft is fun and engaging (Raymond 2014 ), but it is notoriously difficult to confirm its learning–enhancing quality (Epley 2016 : 214–215). Other possible simulation designs involve adapting the traditional Diplomacy (Mattlin 2018 ) board game or placing students in a hypothetical scenario of a Zombie attack (Horn et al. 2015 ).

While simulations represent the most popular form of active learning activities in IR classes, there are other non-standard techniques intended to boost student engagement and understanding. Among those, films are on the rise, with some classes combining the classical features (e.g. Duck Soup from 1933 or All Quiet on the Western Front from 1930) with more recent releases, such as Lord of the Rings and 300 (Engert and Spencer 2009 ; Simpson and Kaussler 2009 ; Valeriano 2013 ). Other, less common delivery techniques involve civic engagement and service learning (Glazier 2015 ), as well as teaching IR through arts (Ramel 2018 ) and even dance (Rösch 2018 ). While all of these in-class teaching activities may truly help to engage students and render abstract concepts more accessible, there is no evidence that active learning activities mitigate the “hidden curriculum” effect, which prompts students to strategise in a way to neglect those aspects of learning which are perceived as not directly relevant to assessment. If anything, modern students may be even more oriented towards outcomes as opposed to the process of learning than those attending universities in the 1960s and 1970s. The discussion whether this process of instrumentalisation of university studies is right, or how to change it, goes far beyond the scope of this paper. The fact is that modern universities act as if assessment is the cornerstone of studying for a degree, as indicated by the amount of time and resources allocated to monitor the “quality” of assessment and decide on student assessment/degree outcomes. At the same time, students’ perceptions about the importance of “results” are often shaped even before they come to the university by stories they hear from their parents and their understanding of what it takes to build a successful professional life. Consequently, there are good reasons for university assessment to be thought-through, seamlessly integrated into our understanding of what kinds of knowledge and skills our students should acquire.

Some of the rare contributions on assessment in IR focus on measuring student performance in simulations (Kollars and Rosen 2013 ; Raymond and Usherwood 2013 ), with the notable exception of the paper arguing for short paper assignments in classes (Mcmillan 2014 ). Raymond and Usherwood make an interesting point on the limits of reflective statements, widely used in simulation exercises (notably in Statecraft), which ask students to reflect on their simulation experience and link it to the theoretical contents of the module. The authors note that drawing any definite conclusions about student learning progress based on their reflective statements is unjustified, citing literature questioning how accurately we can recreate all that happened in the past (including causal links) (Raymond and Usherwood 2013 : 160–61). Kollars and Rosen, on the other hand, list the benefits of assessment through simulations. One of the alleged benefits is that simulations allow developing a better understanding of students’ true abilities because they allow observing student progress over a longer period. In contrast, examinations may induce stress, which may cause otherwise good students to produce poor results (Kollars and Rosen 2013 : 153). Finally, McMillan stresses the advantages of short paper assignments over longer research papers, arguing that the former can serve the same purposes as the latter, but short assignments come with a plethora of other benefits, such as closer links with the type of writing students will be doing in their jobs (McMillan 2014 : 109–10). The purpose of this paper is more encompassing. Rather than evaluating assessment options for active learning activities, this paper suggests a comprehensive framework for assessing IR in undergraduate education. An integral part of the framework itself, however, is the method underpinning it. The following section explains the holistic method, which informed the two-tier IR assessment strategy introduced later in this paper.

A holistic method for assessment design

In this paper, I argue that a well thought-through assessment strategy should, ideally, rest on three components: experience, some knowledge of the relevant pedagogical literature and student engagement. Experience and theoretical expertise pertain to the classical distinction between knowing how and knowing what. While the latter refers to our knowledge of theories and principles, the former “rests on bodily experience and practice: it is knowledge within the practice instead of behind the practice” (Pouliot 2008 : 267). Of course, this distinction is ideal, and our understanding of assessment is likely underpinned by some theoretical knowledge. What I propose is to make the distinction between experience and theoretical expertise explicit in our thinking about assessment, even if the boundaries between the two are blurred in our professional development. For example, it is established practice to offer graduate teaching assistants some brief pedagogical training to prepare them for teaching and marking. In the UK context, it has also become common for universities to require their early-career staff to acquire professional recognition through the fellowship scheme of the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE). Both modes of learning, through acquiring theoretical knowledge and through practice, have their own place in developing effective assessment strategies.

The final component concerns student engagement. There are different forms of engaging students in discussions on assessment and feedback, ranging from ad hoc consultations to institutionalised channels for working with students in partnership. Conversely, there is also a variety of areas suitable for staff–student partnership schemes, including (a) learning, teaching and assessment; (b) curriculum design and pedagogy; (c) subject-based research; and (d) scholarship of teaching and learning (Healey et al. 2014 ). Those areas often overlap, as they do in my own initiative, which I will now briefly outline. In the academic year 2018/2019, I launched a pilot project intended to engage undergraduate students in my department, across all 3 years, in a sustained and meaningful discussion on assessment and feedback. My intention was not merely to elicit information from students on how they would like to be assessed. Instead, I framed the initiative as a way to enhance our learning community, which implied that the learning process was going to take place both ways (as it did) (Healey et al. 2014 : 25–35).

For implementation, I relied on several online platforms in order to make the initiative flexible. Specifically, the Microsoft Teams collaborative platform played the central role, supported by Microsoft Stream for recording videos and Microsoft Forms for collecting student responses. A typical flow of work would involve myself recording a 5–10-min video outlining an issue I would like to discuss, such as students’ preferred methods of assessment. Afterwards, I would ask students to answer a few questions, such as how they would rate several different assessment forms and which ones were their most/least favourite types. After reading the responses, I would record another video commenting on student responses and offering them some tips and insights into how assessment works from the pedagogical perspective. Finally, I would ask students to comment on that follow-up video, which would often lead to the new cycle. Overall, between 70 and 90 students actively participated throughout the project, and they made over 500 written contributions on different areas of assessment and feedback. The project ended in April 2019 with very positive student feedback.

How do students want to be assessed?

The question concerning students’ assessment preferences was the first one I raised. First, I asked students to rate 15 different forms of assessment according to their preferences, with a system of five stars ratings. Students were invited to freely interpret the notion of “preference” and whether it related to value-added to their learning process, perceived difficulty, student familiarity or something else. The subsequent two open qualitative questions, where students justified their most and least preferred choices, allowed them to clarify what it is exactly that they like/dislike about those assessment types. Ninety students responded. My expectation was that students would prefer innovative or non-standard forms of assessment to essays and examinations. In reality, essays emerged on top of the list, followed by essay plans and short response papers. Assessment related to problem-based learning (PBL) and simulations were next on the list, with the least favourite assessment forms being poster presentations, oral presentations and examinations. While PBL and simulations can, more appropriately, be classified as assessment activities rather than assessment forms, Carol Evans rightly includes them on the list of assessment types Footnote 1 because they are inherently predisposed to generate a variety of non-standard assessments, such as practical performance or written/oral interpretation of practical experience. For this reason, it is difficult to disentangle PBL and simulations as learning techniques from associated assessment as these non-standard learning activities typically work in tandem with a set of non-standard assessment forms.

When justifying their choices, students defended essays as representing the fairest form of assessment, allowing them to demonstrate their true academic potential. Arguably, essays allow undertaking a more in-depth approach to researching a specific topic. They support advancing a careful and considerate thought and offer enough time to research and explore the topic. Essays allow getting to grips with different arguments. Because there is plenty of time available, essays represent a true reflection of the students’ ability. Finally, essays allow going into the details of a question and carefully study the answer. They are effective in drawing students’ attention into the relevant literature and are supportive of students’ developing own arguments. Based on the combination of practical experience, insights from pedagogical literature and student engagement, I argue in the following section that essays should constitute the bedrock of assessing IR in undergraduate education. In fact, skills associated with academic essay writing have become crucially important—more than anywhere in the past—and it is difficult to overestimate their practical significance.

Tier one: academic essays and their practical value for IR

For the purpose of my argument, I do not draw the distinction between longer papers and short response papers. This kind of distinction was indeed relevant for McMillan ( 2014 ), who argues the value of short papers over longer ones in IR, but undergraduate essays come in different sizes ranging from 500 to 600 words short papers all the way up to 5000–6000 words. It is even possible to consider the final undergraduate project itself—the dissertation—a one long essay, especially if it is oriented towards theory or history. Instead of the length, what matters is the underpinning characteristics of academic essays. These are long established and include (a) explicitness, in that the academic essay form is devoid of nuances; (b) the rationalist and humanist paradigm, in that the written form is considered crucial for exchanging knowledge and fostering progress; and (c) persuasiveness, in that the essay aims to advance ideas supported by explicit evidence (Andrews 2003 ).

In the UK context, the industry-oriented and economic growth-driven policy agenda has led to the dismissal of the humanities and social sciences subjects, in which essays dominate, and the promotion of science and engineering (STEM) subjects instead. As such, and in comparison with the more pragmatic, technical and result-oriented reports, it may be tempting to view essays as “academic” in the pejorative sense of the word, i.e. entailing abstract and hence impractical approach to theorise about ideas. In reality, essays allow to develop and practice skills relevant not only for employment prospects, but also—from the IR perspective—to navigate the completely new reality of the interconnection between international politics, new technologies and populism. Among others, academic essays allow to practice “research skills, logical and critical thinking skills, clear expression, independent learning, communications skills, organisational skills, time and task management skills self-awareness, reflective skills (…)” (Shields 2010 : 20).

Essays and critical thinking

One helpful way to distinguish between the value of essays for assessing IR from methods related to active learning is to recognise that they emphasise two different kinds of knowledge: declarative and functioning. The word “emphasise” is appropriate here because the two kinds of assessment do not align themselves neatly with the two kinds of knowledge. Essays, for example, can ask students to apply declarative knowledge to an empirical problem, such as an international conflict. Simulation-related assessments, on the other hand, may require students to identify relevant facts or argue their position. Both kinds of knowledge can be further divided up into different levels of demonstrated complexity using so-called SOLO framework, which stands for structure of the observed learning outcome (Biggs and Tang 2011 , pp. 86–90). The SOLO framework stipulates that when students learn, their understanding should grow in complexity, progressing across five levels. These learning levels are:

Prestructural Indicating that students only understand individual words, but their sentences miss the point due to lack of knowledge and understanding.

Unistructural Indicating that students can identify one basic aspect of a problem, but missing other dimensions.

Multistructural Indicating that students know various facts (individual trees), but lack an overarching understanding of a problem (the forest).

Relational Indicating that students can tie together different facts into a coherent “whole”. Different facts and concepts are integrated to present us with the “forest view” of a problem.

Extended abstract Indicating that students can move beyond the immediate confines of the question and conceptualise their response at the higher level, offering the reader a new perspective on a problem.

The model will look familiar to the students of Rosenau and Durfee ( 1995 ) and their ladder of abstraction, which stipulates that we should always strive to reach a higher level of understanding by shifting our focus away from simple facts and towards identifying relationships and patterns, making ourselves more theoretically conscious. The bottom line of both propositions is that learning entails improving our comprehension of complexity, which entails thinking in a more structured and logical way, reaching better-informed conclusions or being able to synthesise information based on sound assessment of arguments. Those are all components of critical thinking—a foundational skill (still) underpinning the rationale behind higher education. In this context, essays remain a highly suitable and practical way for students to practice their complexity comprehension, as well as to demonstrate their progress to the degree-awarding institution. The SOLO framework, in turn, allows situating students’ progress on a scale from a very basic understanding all the way up to the ability to abstract the problem and see it from a new perspective.

Critical thinking in IR: Brexit and Donald Trump

Although it is difficult to overemphasise the practical implications of practicing and improving the skills promoted by a simple academic essay, one caveat needs to be made here. Naturally, each module should begin with setting up learning objectives and those objectives should dictate the form of assessment. In the words of Biggs ( 2003 ), assessment should not come as a standalone consideration and instead should be constructively aligned with the learning outcomes. This article specifically focuses on the academic disciple of IR, which has developed a relatively well-delineated scope over 100 years since establishment. If the purpose of higher education, in the words of McCaffery ( 2019 : 35), is to “complement critical thinking (…) with critical self-reflection and critical action”, then it is the overarching purpose of IR education to nourish this “formation of critical being” in relation to politics beyond the boundaries of the nation states. Critical being in IR requires awareness of key structures and processes constituting the realm of the “international” and how they manifest themselves in political agendas, decisions, actions or inactions. For example, what are the implications of climate change or coronavirus to international politics? How to make sense of Brexit or Donald Trump’s foreign policy? Regardless of specific learning objectives, few IR teachers will deny these are relevant topics in IR education, and so, the following examples illustrating the relevance of academic essays relate to some of these topics.

In Foreign Affairs, Tom Nichols ( 2017 ) paints a sobering, if not entirely shocking image of the American rejection of experts and expertise. What is particularly disturbing, according to Nichols, is not the fact that Americans do not know about the world (roughly half of the polled respondents favoured bombing Agrabah—a fictional country from a Disney movie), or even that they distaste intellectuals. What seems new and alarming is that ignorance is increasingly considered a virtue and even the most heated argument exchanges are simply replaced by “shouting matches”. One interesting twist to this argument was the observation that the more ignorant the respondents were about the topic, the more definite answers they offered. Another one was the fact that respondents seem equally ignorant on both sides of the ideological spectrum—conservative and liberal.

In the UK context, a study of voters’ knowledge of the European Union (EU) revealed one similar trend: contrary to the popular perception among “Remainers” that the Brexit voters were uninformed, the level of EU knowledge is actually the same on both sides (Carl 2019 ). In one study, both “Remainers” and “Leavers” scored an average of 60% of correct answers to the list of 15 questions about the EU. While it is debatable whether this level of knowledge—on both sides—was enough to decide on an international political issue of such an enormous magnitude, other research findings from the study are actually more interesting in the context of academic essay writing. Out of the 15 questions, nine were considered by the authors “ideologically neutral”, in that the response to those questions was not particularly convenient for either of the sides. Six questions, on the other hand, could be considered more “ideologically convenient” for one of the sides, in that they asked about things such as the level of the UK’s contribution to the EU budget or whether the UK contributes more to the EU budget than it receives.

What is interesting is that factors such as age and higher education affected the level of knowledge related to the first nine “neutral” questions. In contrast, the political ideology of the respondents seems to have gotten an upper hand when answering the more “ideological” questions, in that both sides responded relatively better to questions, which appeared more ideologically convenient to them. For example, “Leavers” were more often correct than “Remainers” when responding to the statement that “The UK currently pays more money into the EU than it gets back in the form of subsidies and other funds” (which is true). Conversely, “Remainers” were more often right when responding to the statement that “More than ten per cent of British government spending goes to the EU” (which is false).

Both the US and UK examples illustrate that people are generally ignorant about the complex matters of international politics. This is hardly surprising. Further, their ignorance does not prevent them in any way from articulating definite opinions, participating in referendums or otherwise acting upon their believes. The American and British examples further confirm the power of ideological biases, which are well known in the world of party politics. We could argue that in the current age of enormous political polarisation, the high level of ideological bias is to be expected among both politicians and the population at large. University campuses, especially in the USA, are not immune to it (Mazer 2018 ). Still, if there is any meaningful role that universities can still undertake other than proffer their brand name to their graduates’ CVs, it is to encourage students to become more critical thinkers and writers. This brings us back to academic essays, which are rightly at the heart of facilitating this task.

The SOLO framework, essays and IR

Returning to the example of Brexit, ideological position, combined with some rudimentary knowledge of the EU, prompted UK citizens to cast their vote in a referendum. Many of those voters likely operated with the unistructural or—at best—multistructural level of EU knowledge, identifying a limited number of individual facts about the EU. Academic essays, by their nature, encourage research when confronted with a problem, prompting students to seek evidence in support of their argument and nourishing the habit of seeking information from higher-quality resources. At this basic level, they encourage students to progress towards practicing multistructural knowledge, where they can identify multiple facts in support of their argument, but also describe and classify those facts.

The value of academic essays is most prominent, however, when they prompt students to progress towards higher levels of comprehension, as indicated by the relational and extended abstract learning levels. Here, to continue with the Brexit example, students are not only able to identify multiple facts relevant to the discussion on the UK’s membership in the EU. They are also able to compare and contrast these facts, analyse and explain them and ultimately argue their case for the UK’s relationship with the EU. Eventually, students should also be able to move outside of the immediate confines of the Brexit question and generalise as well as theorise the problem at the higher level of abstraction by linking it to related concepts such as sovereignty, populism, globalisation or fear.

As for the question of ideological bias, the practice of essay writing remains the most promising exercise requiring students to systematically challenge and question their prior believes and value systems. If they come to the university convinced that, for example, excessive migration from EU countries justifies Brexit, they may still leave the university holding that core believe. At the same time, however, after writing numerous essays concluded with a long-form research project, they should graduate being able to better appreciate the complexity and interconnectedness of those multifaceted political phenomena. They should also be equipped to better recognise how their own ideological biases affect their position on the questions of national and international politics.

Tier two: assessing functioning knowledge through active learning

To reinforce the value of academic essays for assessing IR is not to dismiss more practical assessment methods, such as those stemming from in-class simulations and other kinds of PBL. Here, the paper aligns its argument with most of the writings on IR pedagogy, but it emphasises equal value of both traditional and innovative assessment methods. They are both important because—as noted—essays remain highly practical and relevant . Further, they both emphasise distinct kinds of knowledge, although with overlaps. Essays emphasise declarative knowledge. They teach students to describe, classify, compare, contrast, explain, argue and analyse. They also teach to theorise and generalise (Biggs and Tang 2011 : 124). Assessments related to problem-based and active exercises such as simulations, on the other hand, help students learn how to apply knowledge, solve immediate and remote problems, reflect and improve practice (Biggs and Tang 2011 : 124).

In the staff–student partnership initiative, assessment through PBL exercises, including simulations, constituted the second most preferred method among students participating in my staff–student partnership initiative. In this instance, many students who participated in the survey also participated in the Statecraft simulation, so they understood what kind of assessment was linked with the simulation. It included quizzes, reflective statement and performance. In other educational contexts, where students don’t know how a simulation exercise could be assessed, it will help to offer specific examples. As with essays, students justified their preferences in a variety of ways. Arguably, simulations make learning more effective because they allow practicing it and applying to problems. Simulations are especially relevant for learning theories and ideas. Simulations are arguably right for individual expression, and they allow learning without the pressure associated with presentations or debates. Simulations are entertaining, enjoyable and a compelling reason to engage with the module. Related to that point, simulations raise the level of engagement and focus among students when playing a simulation. Another advantage of simulations is their perceived utility for practicing skills important for employability. Different students pointed to different reasons as to why PBL methods are a good way to assess IR, but they mostly revolved around these few points.

These pro-simulation arguments align with the pedagogical literature. A quick glance at the scholarship on teaching and learning in IR indicates that among pedagogically aware academics, there is a strong inclination to move towards active learning methodologies, most notably simulations. As noted, this is hardly surprising because the field of IR is naturally predisposed to encourage this kind of teaching approach. Glazier reinforces this observation, noting that the use of simulations for teaching IR has greatly increased, even if the idea is not new (Glazier 2015 :266–267). Simulations are supposed to offer students a different and, arguably, more effective, way of learning compared to reading and listening. The concepts, dilemmas, problems and theories familiar to IR scholars become more accessible to students through simulations, allowing students to experience them in a controlled environment (Wedig 2010 ). The simulations are also seemingly a more appropriate method for millennial students, who are more receptive to problem-based methods and the learning process cantered on their practical experiences (Crossley-Frolick 2010 ). Finally, computer-based simulations should also develop students’ reflective and critical thinking skills with computers acting “as cognitive amplification tools for reflecting on what students have learned and what they know” (Jonassen et al. 1998 ). As noted, simulations, while not representing an assessment type as such, invite a variety of assessment methods which can complement essays and diversify student experience. Reflective statements, for example, encourage students to consider their practical experience in the context of the theoretical contents of the module [even if this method has limitations—see Raymond and Usherwood 2013 )]. Assessing simulation performance, on the other hand, encourages students to take the exercise seriously and invest some intellectual effort into it.

Simulations, along with other PBL approaches (such as solving practical world problems in class), represent so-called high-impact pedagogies in higher education learning. Their aim can be identified as to “adequately equip students with the knowledge, capabilities and personal qualities that will enable them to thrive in complex and changing contexts” (Evans et al. 2015 : 11). Simulations, if properly designed and assessed, can certainly contribute to these noble objectives. At the same time, however, we must also underline the lack of concluding evidence confirming the value of high impact pedagogies for stronger learning outcomes (Evans et al. 2015 : 11). J. Celeste Lay and Kathleen J. Smarick, whose students simulated a US Senate office at a large US university, caution against setting expectations for simulations too high. They reinforce the argument of this paper by recommending that simulations should not be adopted as a single teaching method, but instead as a supplement to more traditional pedagogies (Lay and Smarick 2006 ).

In lieu of conclusion: obstacles to implementation

I am under no illusion that the two-tier assessment model proposed in this paper, together with the holistic methodology for designing assessment, can be easily implemented across undergraduate IR programs in the UK and elsewhere. Consequently, instead of a traditional conclusion, I propose to address the potential obstacles both junior and senior academics may face when experimenting with assessment design along the lines outlined here. First, there is the question of the actual purpose of assessment. The two-tier model is based on a rather idealistic assumption that students generally attend classes and engage with the contents of the module. With that assumption in mind, we can then focus on designing assessment, which, we believe, makes most pedagogical sense based on our intended learning outcomes, pedagogical literature and student preferences.

The reality, at least in the UK context, is often very different, however. Since lectures are mostly non-compulsory in undergraduate education, some students choose not to attend them. This is a problem for different kinds of reasons, and so, the teaching staff typically reacts by seeking ways to improve attendance. If students strategise their time allocation around assessment, as evidenced in this paper, then essay-based assessment is not optimal because it does not encourage active participation. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that it seems perfectly logical for many students to only attend sessions covering the topic of their essays and consider other sessions less relevant. As a result, if lecture attendance and participation is a problem, then other forms of assessment may be considered more suitable to entice student participation. In this case, assessment assumes an additional, disciplinary function. Examination naturally comes to mind as a popular form of assessment, which can be hoped to discipline students to attend sessions, provided the lectures are not recorded and made available online. In this instance, the teacher must use judgement and try to reconcile the pedagogical value of different forms of assessment with the cultural setting in which learning takes place.

The second challenge concerns replicating the holistic method for assessment design, which involves teacher’s own experience, familiarity with the pedagogical research and working in partnership with students. In my own experience, setting up effective staff–student partnership proved most time-consuming, although most of the time was spent in preparation for the initiative. Once I got a good grasp of the MS Teams platform and how to upload videos, I was able to run the initiative committing no more than 2–3 h every other week. This may still prove too time-consuming for many. The alternative to a structured and technology-enhanced partnership with students could be a less formal and more ad hoc system of chatting with students about their assessment and feedback preferences. The idea is to get a better understanding of how students themselves see assessment and feedback, which may differ across institutions and cultures. Another issue is finding time for pedagogical research. In the field of IR, there is a decent amount of the literature on designing teaching, learning and assessment, but it mostly relies on the broader field of higher education pedagogy (active learning, PBL, etc.). One efficient way to gain insights from the pedagogical scholarship is to meet with colleagues working in the field of higher education and discuss ideas. Another approach would be to link pedagogical research for assessment purposes with other objectives, such as applying for an Advance HE’s fellowship, a promotion or simply to better fulfil one’s administrative role.

The final challenge also concerns time pressures faced by modern academics, but this time it relates to executing the two-tier assessment model discussed in this paper. Essays are relatively straightforward, and all academics (and students) are familiar with the format. However, one aspect of essay-based assessment, which students in my staff–student partnership raised and which is reinforced by the pedagogical scholarship, can significantly raise the workload for the marking staff. It concerns the need for so-called feedforward, entailing some form of a learning curve for students whereby their initial writing attempts have lower stakes in relation to the final essay. Those lower stake assignments could be shorter essay plans or drafts, but they still require someone to read them and offer feedback. Similarly, simulations can be prohibitively time-consuming and even fully automated simulation platforms, such as Statecraft, require significant time and a learning effort on the part of the instructor. The only practical solution, in this case, may be to rely on teaching assistants for the day-to-day facilitation of the simulation, but the availability of those extra teaching resources will vary across institutions, programs and modules.

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Zwolski, K. Assessing international relations in undergraduate education. Eur Polit Sci 20 , 345–358 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-020-00255-0

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As a field of study, international relations (IR) is a young discipline. Its genesis can be traced back to the period immediately following World War I. In the aftermath of the war, philanthropists, scholars, and diplomats in Europe and the United States sought an understanding of the causes of war and the means by which to promote international peace and security. At its core, the initial study of IR was both normative and empirical. Normative IR theory seeks to provide a set of values that policymakers, diplomats, and other actors should follow in order to better the human condition. Empirical IR theory seeks to explain the underlying causes of political events. Originally, IR had the normative desire to achieve pacific relations between states and an empirical concern with investigating the underlying causes of war and conflict.

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With this narrow focus on interstate conflict, the original scholars in the field drew their theoretical insight from philosophy, history, law, and economics. Early scholars began a practice in IR of drawing on the philosophical works of Thucydides, Niccolo Machiavelli, Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and others in search of a proper understanding of the causes of war and the potential for peace. The study of past historical events was used to develop general principles that might be employed to resolve current and future conflicts. The growing importance of international law as a tool for states would be used by IR scholars to frame theoretical approaches promoting peace and security. In the decades following World War I, departments of IR emerged in Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States to train diplomats and policymakers and further the theoretical study of the discipline.

Although the discipline began by focusing on the causes of war and the potential for peace, the complexities of world politics and the emergence of globalizing forces throughout the 20th century expanded the scope of IR to include the study of human rights, migration, environmental cooperation, economic development, ethnic conflict, nationalism, terrorism, and international crime. Today, IR scholars have developed sophisticated theories and models in order to study an ever-expanding set of issues and concerns. Constituting one of the main subfields in political science, IR continues to demonstrate how political power defines this growing set of issues and concerns.

In the discussion that follows, the historical emergence and intellectual scope of the discipline are explored by examining the development of international relations theory throughout the 20th century as well as the broadening list of empirical issues analyzed by IR scholars. Following this review, the future direction of IR is discussed. At the end of this research paper, a list of further readings is provided that introduces the reader to the themes introduced and the concepts explored.

Historical and Theoretical Developments in International Relations

In 1919, a wealthy Welsh industrialist by the name of David Davies provided funds to the University of Wales at Aberystwyth for the purpose of studying international relations. After witnessing the carnage of World War I, Mr. Davies was intrigued by the ideals represented in the League of Nations and dedicated funds to endow the Woodrow Wilson Chair of International Politics with a belief that humankind could overcome war. Sir Alfred Zimmern, a British historian, became the first scholar of international politics when he accepted the post of Wilson Chair. His work is characteristic of early scholarship in IR and focuses on issues of economic interdependence and cooperation through international treaty law. Believing that scholars could make a difference in the world around them, Zimmern and other liberals of his time sought practical institutional solutions for the problems of conflict in the world. This focus on institutional solutions would come to dominate early discussions in the discipline and exemplifies liberal IR theory. He had an interest in and affinity for the League of Nations as a mechanism to prevent conflict and promote prosperity and peace among states. Many of the liberal IR scholars of the time, including Alfred Zimmern and Norman Angell, were active in League affairs and accepted the political position of contemporary leaders like Woodrow Wilson, who argued that self-determination for peoples and state membership in organizations like the League could create the foundation for international cooperation and the transcendence of war as a policy of the state. The pinnacle of liberal IR thinking that understands law as the basis for peace is the Kellogg–Briand Pact, an international treaty formally titled the Pact of Paris that outlaws war as a policy tool for states in the conduct of their foreign affairs. This treaty was signed by more than 60 states and exists today as a reminder of institutional attempts to transcend conflict through international law. By outlawing war among the signatories, the treaty established a legal basis for trying state actors who violated the provisions of the treaty. Further, the treaty provided a solid foundation for a set of international norms limiting the use of violence in international conflict and constraining the actions of states.

For early liberal international relations scholars, the international community had the potential to use international organizations, international treaty law, and state diplomacy to solve problems. When constructed correctly, agreements negotiated by diplomats, written into law, and managed by proper organizations could resolve long-term international conflicts. Political challenges posed by World War II and the cold war would require certain refinements to liberalism in the 1970s, but the core belief in the possibility for change and the potential to overcome conflict still remains among liberal theorists.

Throughout the interwar period, as the period from 1919 to 1939 would come to be called, scholars concerned with a focus on institutional mechanisms to overcome interstate violence challenged liberal international relations theorists by emphasizing how enduring laws of power and the inevitable consequences of an international environment defined by a lack of a global government (anarchy) undermined institutional attempts to achieve peace. Exemplified in the classic E.H. Carr (1940) book The Twenty Years’Crisis: 1919–1939, realist IR theory focused on state concerns with security and the ever-present quest for power. There had been great concern among realists that liberal scholars and diplomats had a naive interpretation of international affairs and an idealistic faith in legal and institutional solutions as a means to solving potential conflicts. Accordingly, liberals had underestimated the potential for states to dismiss their legal (treaty) commitments and withdraw membership from international organizations when their national interest ran contrary to that law or organization.

Realists argued that scholars needed to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the causes of war. The normative desire to prevent war, although noble, undermined a clear understanding of its causes. As IR scholars, realists insisted that scholars seek a better understanding of what caused international violence in the first place. Writers such as E. H. Carr (1940), Hans Morgenthau (1948), John Herz (1950), and others labeled liberal IR scholarship “utopian” because of the liberal reliance on institutional solutions. These realists offered a vision of international politics where the potential for war required scholars and diplomats to mitigate its effects rather than seek its transcendence. According to realists, there was a set of conditions that prevented humankind from transcending war as policy. Human nature, often defined as a quest for power, and the anarchical environment limited the effectiveness of institutional solutions to prevent war. Reviewing the Kellogg–Briand Pact that liberals extolled as a sign of moral and political development in international affairs, realists noted that by the beginning of World War II, many of the pact’s signatories were occupied by, or at war with, other signatories.

Policymakers, realists argued, should recognize and internalize the important lessons of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). The peace treaty that ended this European war established sovereignty as a defining principle of each state and required each state to defend against external aggression rather than rely on other states for their defense. Sovereignty, or the principle that states have control and autonomy over their physical territory and the citizens or subjects in that territory, would come to dominate realist scholarship.

During this early period of theory development, a third approach to understanding the causes of war and the mechanisms for peace was emerging as a critique of both liberal and realist international relations theory. Emerging from the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and others in the last half of the 19th century, Marxian scholars introduced a radical retelling of international relations. These scholars explored how particular class interests captured the power of the state and harnessed its foreign policies in order to promote their interests. This approach challenged both liberal and realist conceptions of the state as a neutral agent with regard to the citizens or subjects within. When understood to be in the interest of the propertied (or bourgeois) class, the state was engaged in a policy of expansion and imperialism. War, as state policy, could be understood as the means by which states would expand access to commodities and markets abroad. Moreover, opportunities for increased profits during war made it a profitable enterprise for the capitalist classes. Since the burden of battle was borne by the lower classes, Marxist IR scholars emphasized how war was the result of a particular economic system.

This radical approach to IR challenges liberalism and realism in two ways. First, as a moral critique, Marxism explores how capitalism, as an economic theory, undermines the human capacity for empathy. As a basis for the economic ordering of society, capitalism results in the exploitation of certain human beings and the alienation of all human beings. Once alienated, human beings become objects to be used just as the state might use any other weapon of war. Georg Lukacs (1971), a German philosopher writing in the early part of the 20th century, explores these moral criticisms of capitalism in History and Class Consciousness. His examination of human alienation has been used by subsequent Marxist IR scholars to explain how modern warfare dehumanizes people. Marxism also critiques the empirical rationale for war. Because capitalism requires that markets grow, war becomes a necessity. Capitalists must employ the state in war making in order to increase profits. V. I. Lenin (1916/1964), in his analysis of the causes of World War I, explores this issue in Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

After World War II, the historical trajectory of international relations was altered by two significant factors in world politics. First, the emergence of a new international economic order, increasing global trade and financial flows among states, prompted scholars to adjust the mainstream theories of liberalism and realism. In 1944, policymakers of the Allied states met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in the United States to negotiate institutional structures to manage the postwar global economy. At the conclusion of this international conference, the states in attendance agreed to create the World Bank (known originally as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (which became the World Trade Organization in 1995). These institutions, and the norms of free trade, financial transparency, monetary stability, and economic integration that uphold these institutions, offered IR scholars additional variables to study in order to understand the causes of war and the potential for peace.

In a historical context, the development of these economic institutions demonstrated the importance of the liberal economic idea that global peace would be enhanced if states cooperated through trade and monetary policies. Often called neoliberals, scholars have explored how states in international relations create long-term cooperative arrangements that endure throughout the decades. Scholars such as Robert Keohane (1984) continue to study the implications of an increasingly global economic order. Their focus is on the complex web of governance rules. International governance occurs in conditions of anarchy, where government does not exist. However, even without formal government, neoliberals demonstrate how governance rules proliferate among the states in international relations and order their behavior. It is often the case that these governance rules proliferate because international regimes have been created to enhance the cooperation among states. The term international regimes refers to sets of principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors converge on a given issue area (Krasner, 1983). These regimes exist without the need of a formal government structure. Regimes function to provide a level of ordered and predictable governance among states in international society. An example of how regime cooperation has limited the spread of nuclear weapons follows.

In addition to scholarship on international governance and the importance of regimes, neoliberal scholars have employed the shared values that democratic states have in maintaining liberal economic conditions to study a separate peace that appears to develop among democratic states. Scholars such as Michael Doyle (1986) have explored this democratic peace hypothesis, arguing that sovereign states with market economies, limited government, civil rights, and representative government do not go to war with each other. This represents a direct theoretical challenge to realism. If neoliberals are correct and the type of government matters in terms of the potential for interstate peace, then the proliferation of democratic states should reduce the likelihood of war in the future. A world made up of democratic states could allow for the transcendence of interstate war as a policy possibility.

A second challenge to traditional international relations theory emerged after World War II with the advent of nuclear weapons and the global security threat posed by U.S. and Soviet hostilities during the cold war. Previous security threats involved state aggression and the proper international response to that aggression. The threat posed by great-power nuclear weapons required scholars to imagine global nuclear annihilation. A deterrence strategy known as MAD, or mutually assured destruction, emerged among strategic studies scholars and influenced the national security strategies of both the United States and the Soviet Union. In the 1960s, IR theorists debated the relative stability of an international system in which nuclear weapons existed as a global threat. Many realists (Art &Waltz, 1971; McNamara, 1968; Newhouse, 1973; Schelling & Halperin, 1961) outlined the merits of a MAD environment where states would learn that use of nuclear weapons would result in their own demise. This, they argued, would create a level of stability in international affairs and minimize the likelihood of system-wide wars. Scholars in other traditions (Bennett, 1962; Clancy, 1961; Dyson, 1979) contended that the potential for accidents or the irrational actions of one individual who did not learn the lessons of MAD could place billions of lives in peril.

Although the theoretical and moral debates remain ongoing in IR theory, the presence of nuclear weapons in world politics has led to broad agreement among diplomats and policymakers that access to nuclear technology should be regulated at the international level. The international community has developed an intricate set of principles, rules, norms, and decision-making procedures to limit access to nuclear technology and minimize its proliferation beyond a small group of declared nuclear states. These components constitute the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Actors in this regime include declared nuclear powers, the United Nations Security Council, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The regime is centered on a multilateral treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Each of these components includes a set of principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures that guide the behavior of states on the issue of nuclear nonproliferation.

Regimes exist in all areas of international affairs, including human rights, security, the environment, trade, finance, and cultural preservation. The study of international regimes has become a central research area in IR. Regime analysis has emerged as a useful approach to understanding conflict and cooperation. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, scholars in IR (Keohane, 1984; Krasner, 1983; Young, 1989, 1994) produced numerous works that furthered our understanding of and appreciation for international regimes. This literature helps explain how governance without government is possible and why international politics is most often ordered and predictable. Sophisticated theoretical studies of regimes provide a more comprehensive picture of international affairs than the earlier theoretical work conducted during the interwar period. Because regimes include multiple actors (such as states, international governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and transnational corporations), their study provides theorists with a more detailed model of international affairs. In addition, because regimes involve institutional rules (like international law) and socially appropriate practices (like international norms), their study provides an opportunity for a more comprehensive approach to the study of continuity and change in world politics.

Alternative Challenges to Mainstream International Relations Theory

Although the inclusion of factors such as globalizing economic structures and the presence of nuclear weapons offers international relations scholars a new set of factors to include in their studies of international affairs, the treatment of these and other issues by mainstream scholars in the field has been viewed as inadequate by scholars critical of a focus on states instead of individuals and national security instead of human security. Alternative voices emerged throughout the 1980s that sought to critique both the mainstream IR scholarship of realists and liberals and the foreign policies that they studied. Although these alternative voices do not represent a single theory or approach to the study of world politics, they share a common concern that the discipline of IR and the practice of international politics have relied on concepts such as state sovereignty and the state system at the expense of other concepts. This state-centric emphasis marginalizes a set of concerns that need to be explored further if theorists wish to provide compelling and comprehensive answers to current and future problems.

The state, what constitutes it, what the implications are of particular foreign and security policies pursued by it, and where its national interests come from have been left underanalyzed and unquestioned. These questions represent a different type of question than those posed by realist and liberal scholars. Mainstream questions focus on the international environment and leave the internal assumptions of the theories themselves unexamined. Questions that critique the assumptions within theories are termed critical questions and require theorists to reexamine and reconstruct the theoretical foundations of international affairs. Often, this means that IR theory needs to be reformulated in order to remain coherent.

This alternative manner of theorizing has had a profound influence on the IR discipline. Feminist, constructivist, and environmental scholars represent important challenges to the traditional study of IR. Each of the approaches is examined below. Note that although each approach is different in its focus and the critical question that it poses, all of the approaches are similar in that they challenge liberal and realist IR theory.

By asking an alternative set of questions, feminist scholars (Carpenter, 2006; Enloe, 1989; Tickner, 1992, 2001) have been able to provide insight into gender issues that remain hidden by standard approaches in the discipline. The general focus of the discipline on war and economic affairs marginalized gender inequality. Feminist scholars in the 1970s argued that traditional gender roles in society undermined inclusion of women in international affairs. Divisions of labor in both advanced industrial and traditional societies mandated that women remain in the private sphere while men participate in the public sphere. Because war and diplomacy were public acts, women—and the issues of most concern to them—would be discounted. Similarly, because the home was part of the private sphere, feminist concerns of family, education, health care, and children would be marginalized, and issues of state GDP and increased trade would be emphasized. In both cases, feminist IR scholars articulated a new set of questions to challenge mainstream IR scholarship.

Consider the following example. Both realist and liberal international relations scholars accept the state as a necessary actor in international affairs and argue that its presence enhances the security of individuals by protecting them (collectively) against potential harm that exists in the international (or external) environment. Realists argue this by employing a concept like the national interest, and liberals emphasize this by employing a concept like collective security through international law. In either case, both theoretical approaches accept that the state is a central variable in the maintenance of international peace and security. Feminist IR scholarship challenges this assumption and questions whether the state might reinforce social structures that oppress and exploit particular groups. Domestically, IR theories that promote the idea that states protect the national interest and maintain national defenses are participating in a public debate about where to spend limited tax revenues collected by the state. Given a limited amount of state funds that can be spent on all public goods, this has the effect of steering money away from social programs that might be used to educate children, provide welfare and child care assistance, and promote health care for vulnerable groups. If public funds cannot be provided to supply these goods, the burden of supplying these goods often falls on women. Internationally, IR theories that emphasize issues such as balance of power and alliance structures or foreign direct investment and increased global trade are reinforcing a set of social structures that exploit women. In an important early critique of IR, Cynthia Enloe (1989) argues that mainstream IR theory neglected to study the social implications of cold war bases around the world. In Bananas, Beaches, and Bases, Enloe directs the attention of the reader away from a standard view of international politics as a struggle for power and security and toward an analysis of the implications of foreign military bases in third world countries. Recognizing that these bases reinforce stereotypical views of masculinity and perpetuate the exploitation of women who work in and around military bases, Enloe challenges traditional assumptions of international politics.

A second alternative challenge to traditional international relations scholarship has emerged among scholars interested in challenging the origin of state interests. Constructivists (Hopf, 2002; Katzenstein, 1996; Lapid & Kratochwil, 1996; Wendt, 1992) focus on the formation of national identity as a prerequisite for understanding and explaining national interests. Issues of identity and the norms that shape and constrain it remain hidden by mainstream approaches to IR that assume a given and predetermined national interest exists among all states. As with the feminists, these scholars ask a set of critical questions that requires a reexamination of traditional theories. The aim of constructivist IR scholarship is to challenge the underlying motivations that both liberal and realist scholars assume states have when conducting their foreign policies. By challenging the essence of these mainstream theories, constructivists are engaged in more than correcting a perceived flaw in IR scholarship; they are also engaged in reimagining the conduct of international affairs and allowing alternative interpretations of historical events to emerge.

Consider the following example. During the cold war, American and Soviet identities were based on a consideration of the other as an enemy. Each state had a negative perception of the other based on the qualities one possessed as distinct from what the other possessed. The United States perceived itself in positive terms because it upheld democratic values and political and civil rights. It perceived the Soviet Union in negative terms because it claimed the Soviet Union did not possess these traits. The Soviet Union perceived itself in positive terms because it was concerned with economic and social equality. It perceived the United States in negative terms because it claimed the United States did not possess these concerns. As a result of these identity constructions, each state determined the other to be an enemy and subsequently viewed the other’s actions as hostile and threatening. Constructivists argue that this scenario is what is missing from the work of mainstream IR scholars when they seek an understanding of the national interest. Only by identifying how national identities are created can the interests that form from those identities be understood. The events of the cold war come to be seen as a set of identity performances that reinforce a self–other dynamic in international politics rather than the logical outcome of two states pursuing predetermined national interests. As one prominent constructivist, Alexander Wendt (1992), has stated, anarchy is what states make of it; it is not an enduring cause of war in itself.

Constructivist international relations scholarship has become an important voice in understanding terrorism, ethnic conflict, and religious violence. Constructivists have developed detailed case studies exploring how the formations of particular identities among one group exclude membership for other groups. These studies point out that these identities do not cause war but do give rise to a self–other dichotomy that can be exploited by political entrepreneurs seeking power.

A third alternative approach to understanding international relations requires scholars to reexamine the ability of the state and the state system to solve pressing ecological problems that are transnational in scope and require cooperation among multiple actors. With the rise of national environmental movements in the United States, western Europe, and New Zealand in the 1960s and 1970s, the international community held its first global environmental conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was first proposed by Sweden in 1967 and was later supported by the United States. Scientists and policymakers were becoming increasingly concerned that economic activity in one region of the world was affecting the quality of the environment in other regions of the world.

As international relations scholars turned their attention to environmental issues, it soon became apparent that the mainstream theoretical emphasis on states, state sovereignty, and the national interest was not an adequate approach to resolving the pressing problems associated with the transnational dimension of the environmental problems. Realism and liberalism were constrained by a state-centric understanding of international politics. The world map that defines both theories is political. The world is divided into states with clearly defined borders. Ecosystems and environmental pollution, however, do not respect state borders. Environmental IR theorists (Haas, 1990; Luterbacher & Sprinz, 2001; Newell, 2006) questioned the disciplinary focus on a political world map and sought to reimagine the map as physical in nature. Political solutions to environmental problems require states, nongovernmental organizations, scientific groups, multinational corporations, and others to cooperate in ways that realists and liberals may not emphasize. Unlike peace agreements after major wars or security alliances during times of peace, solutions to environmental problems usually require the cooperation of more than just state actors. For example, state participation in a security alliance requires the cooperation of key government agencies within a state (the foreign and defense ministries, the chief executive, and a legislative body) but does not require much in terms of changes to the behaviors of the average citizen. Solving transnational environmental pollution, however, might require international governmental organizations, state agencies, corporations, and citizen groups to be involved in changing individual behaviors. Moreover, environmental problems are often linked to economic issues. Solving environmental problems can require states to forego economic development plans and limit short-term economic gains for the sake of improved long-term environmental sustainability.

These challenges to traditional international relations scholarship require theorists to construct alternative understandings of international relations. Scholars in this area of IR have researched how environmental scarcity can be a cause of war. Thomas Homer-Dixon (2001) argues that under certain conditions, environmental degradation can contribute to international conflict. Scholars have also examined how the international community has responded to environmental concerns. By examining the institutional structures created since the first international conference in 1972, scholars such as Oran Young (1989) and Peter Haas (1990) have contributed to the field by including epistemic communities (or groups of scientists with a vision of the problems and potential solutions) and regimes into the study on environmental IR.

In the aftermath of the 1972 conference, the international community has been active in institutionally managing the international environment. The United Nations created the United Nations Environmental Programme and held a subsequent international conference in Rio de Janeiro (the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development) in 1992. Broad international treaties to manage the oceans (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea III), air pollution (Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution), the movement of hazardous waste (Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal), and global climate change (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) have been negotiated.

Future Directions in International Relations

The discipline of international relations is adapting to new challenges at the dawn of the 21st century. States are confronted with emerging security threats including terrorism, cyber crime, and ethnic conflict. Challenges posed by uneven development, poverty, inequality, and malnutrition undermine possible state-centric responses. Humanitarian crises caused by political violence, corruption, and environmental disasters require substantial cooperation among international actors. A growing awareness of ecological interdependence demands that practitioners, scholars, and ordinary citizens reconceptualize international politics. Many of these new challenges are caused by a process of globalization that has been occurring for centuries. Globalization manifests itself in many ways but is most often referred to as a shortening of time and space that allows human beings to interact more directly than in times past. With rapid changes in communications technologies and information systems, groups once limited by time and space play an increasingly important role in international politics. These nonstate actors challenge IR scholars to incorporate additional variables into more complex theories of world politics.

Although terrorism is not a new issue in international politics, the globalizing forces that allowed for increased economic trade and wealth also allow terrorists to strike at larger targets. State-sponsored terrorism has been a concern among IR scholars for decades. New forms of terrorism involve nonstate terrorist groups with political grievances against states. Terrorism is generally defined as a premeditated, politically motivated violent act meant to cause fear among noncombatants. Nonstate terrorist groups challenge states in two ways. First, terrorist groups undermine the political fabric of domestic societies by invoking fear among the populous and undermining the legitimacy of the state to maintain peace and security. Second, terrorist activities challenge the foundation of international society by compromising sovereignty. IR scholars have adapted mainstream IR theories to incorporate terrorist activities. Current analysis seeks to understand the rationality of terrorist organizations and the security responses that states make in order to minimize terrorism.

Cybercrime is another emerging security threat that international relations scholars have begun to investigate. A growing amount of national and international commerce and communication takes place electronically. Disruptions to the electronic infrastructure of global commerce threaten national economies and undermine the welfare of societies. In addition, states must protect electronic databases and the classified information they contain. New directions in security studies have been developed to understand and account for the challenges that states face with regard to cybercrime.

Increasingly, conflict between groups involves intrastate ethnic conflict rather than interstate conflict. This represents a theoretical challenge to a discipline founded to transcend or mitigate interstate conflict. As the preceding discussion demonstrates, mainstream IR theories have focused on understanding international wars and promoting effective mechanisms for peace. IR scholars recognize the need to develop a much more sophisticated understanding of conflict that can incorporate both intra- and interstate dimensions of conflict. For instance, recent works by Robert Jackson (1990) and Mohammed Ayoob (1995) explore the internal dimensions of conflict and provide a sophisticated understanding as to how the complex statemaking process creates certain states beset by internal conflict and strife. Moreover, these studies demonstrate how these states undermine regional stability. Future research in this area will be necessary in order to develop increasingly useful theoretical models to predict potential areas of conflict and employ international resources prior to their onset.

In September 2000, member states of the United Nations adopted a set of millennium development goals to reduce poverty and to increase education, access to health care, and gender equality by 2015. These development goals provide evidence of the continued shift away from the traditional issue areas of international politics. Increasingly, states recognize the need to cooperate on a number of issues that were once considered internal or domestic issues. With the challenges posed by the new security threats and a growing awareness and appreciation for cosmopolitan values, state actors recognize the need to share development strategies and improve the human condition for all. This concern over the welfare of all human beings and a broad interest in humanitarian responsibility challenges earlier normative concerns in IR. Recent studies in IR involving issues of economic development, poverty, inequality, malnutrition, and humanitarian crises suggest a new normative shift in the norms and values examined by IR scholars. These new values are enshrined in concepts like a responsibility to protect those individuals and groups in states who are not being protected by their own states. This departure from traditional understandings of state sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention suggests a new debate about what constitute appropriate sovereignty is currently emerging among practitioners and theorists.

In response to the first global environmental issues in the 1970s, states developed complex institutional mechanisms to manage these problems. The persistence and proliferation of these problems has increased the need to further study cooperative strategies for managing them. Declining biodiversity, a looming energy crisis, and challenges to adequate food supplies are three key areas of environmental concern. However, the most difficult environmental problem to solve appears to be global climate change. Insufficient compliance with the Kyoto Protocol and the development demands of industrializing states such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia require states to resolve long-standing collective action problems in order to construct effective treaties for solving climate change. Collective action problems involve scenarios where the most rational actions taken by individual actors are suboptimal for achieving group success. That is, the best option for the group is not necessarily the best action for each individual member of that group (Olson, 1965). Global climate change is often perceived to be a classic collective action problem. IR scholars interested in this subject are seeking more sophisticated theoretical approaches to resolving climate change by invoking complex and varied incentive strategies to achieve cooperation (Luterbacher & Sprinz, 2001; Newell, 2006).

Although a young discipline, international relations has developed increasingly sophisticated approaches to explaining international conflict and the myriad issues that have emerged over the past 100 years. The complexities of world politics and rapid globalization require contemporary IR scholars to investigate more complex issues than those who originally developed the discipline. Although mainstream theoretical approaches to the study of international politics are still important in the field today, alternative theoretical emphasis on gender, norms, and environmental interdependence require scholars to consider a set of important theoretical questions left unexamined by mainstream approaches. Further, new security, humanitarian, and ecological challenges appear to undermine state-centric approaches in the discipline and require scholars to push the boundaries of the discipline in new directions.


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Research and Writing in International Relations

Research and Writing in International Relations

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This book provides concise, easy-to-use advice to help students develop more advanced papers through step-by-step descriptions, examples, and resources for every stage of the paper writing process. The book focuses on areas where students often need guidance: understanding how international relations theory fits into research, finding a topic, developing a question, reviewing the literature, designing research, and last, writing the paper.

Including current and detailed coverage on how to start research in the discipline’s major subfields, Research and Writing in International Relations gives students a classroom-tested approach that leads to better research and writing in introductory and advanced classes.

New to the Third Edition:

  • A new first chapter that gives an overview of the relationship between international relations theory and research in international relations, demonstrating how theoretical frameworks shape the concepts utilized, topics selected, and questions posed in international relations research.
  • Revised topic chapters that include updates to the scholarly literature and data sources
  • Revised descriptions of the areas of study that incorporate new research topics (like global inequality)
  • Additional perspectives from international relations theory.


Part i | 107  pages, the research and writing process, chapter 1 | 26  pages, grounding research in theory, chapter 2 | 12  pages, topic selection and question development, chapter 3 | 21  pages, scholarly literature and the literature review, chapter 4 | 17  pages, project definition and systematic investigation, chapter 5 | 25  pages, analysis and writing, part ii | 78  pages, project resources, chapter 6 | 15  pages, international conflict and national security, chapter 7 | 16  pages, u.s. foreign policy, chapter 8 | 16  pages, international political economy, chapter 9 | 15  pages, international law and organization, chapter 10 | 14  pages, globalization/global issues, part iii | 28  pages, writing resources, chapter 11 | 8  pages, organizing sources and notes, chapter 12 | 12  pages, citing sources, chapter 13 | 6  pages, following style guidelines.

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International Relations and Geopolitics Dissertation Topics

Published by Carmen Troy at January 9th, 2023 , Revised On August 16, 2023


Are you in search of the best dissertation topics on International Relations and Geopolitics?

To help you get a jump-start at mind-mapping and lifting off with International Relations and Geopolitics dissertation, we have formalized a list of the latest trending topics for you. These international relations and geopolitics dissertation topics have been scrutinised by our highly qualified writers to ensure that they can serve as a basis for your dissertation so that you may select them without any doubt.

You may also want to start your dissertation by requesting  a brief research proposal  from our writers on any of these topics, which includes an  introduction  to the topic,  research question , aim and objectives ,  literature review  along with the proposed  methodology  of research to be conducted.  Let us know  if you need any help in getting started.

Check our  dissertation examples to get an idea of  how to structure your dissertation .

Review the full list of dissertation topics for 2022 here.

2022 International Relations and Geopolitics Dissertation Topics

Topic 1: russia-israel relationship and its impact on syria and the middle east..

Research Aim: Russia and Israel share significant aspects of their strategic cultures. Both countries have a siege mentality and are led by a security-first mindset and a predominantly military view of authority. p   Russia’s relationship with Israel has grown in importance in the context of Russia’s military operation in Syria. This study aims to examine the relations between Russia and Israel and how they have impacted Syria and the middle east—focusing on different policies, agreements, and military interventions.

Topic 2: The Impact of International Refugee Laws on Incidence of Human trafficking- A Case of Refugees on the Eastern EU border

Research Aim: This study aims to find the impact of international refugee laws on the incidence of human trafficking in the Eastern EU border. It will determine whether the international refugee laws have a statistically significant effect on the incidence of human trafficking. Furthermore, it will link EU immigration policies and international refugee laws to show how these encourage or discourage human trafficking. Lastly, it will also recommend how the EU can reduce the incidence of human trafficking through more flexible immigration policies following international refugee laws.

Topic 3: The rise of China as a superpower- Impact on Russia’s relationship with the west.

Research Aim: The Asia-pacific region has become the centre of global economic and political gravity. This region has enormous natural resources, industrial financial and people potential. As the focus of global growth turns to the East, Russia sess Asia-pacific region as the engine of the global economy with rising China as a superpower.   This study will focus on the rise of China as a superpower and its impact on Russia’s relations with the Western world, focusing on how Russia is strengthening its ties with China how it is influencing liberal western values.

Topic 4: CPEC- The rising economy of Pakistan

Research Aim: CPEC is a huge international initiative to enhance infrastructure within Pakistan in order to boost commerce with China and further develop the region’s countries. CPEC contributes to the creation of modern transportation infrastructure in Pakistan and makes the country’s economy more competitive in the international market. This study will examine the impact of CPEC on the development of Pakistan’s economy, also focusing on the role of China and Chinese technology in the industrial sector to revolutionise the industrial sector of Pakistan.

Topic 5: The role of cryptocurrencies on international diplomacy.

Research Aim: Taxation., information regulation, and governance all have the potential to be disrupted with significant implications for international politics. This study will analyse the role of cryptocurrency in international diplomacy. Furthermore, it will also focus on how the widespread of digital currencies have the potential to change the world financial system.

2020 Covid-19 International Relations and Geopolitics Research Topics

Topic 1: international relations and covid-19.

Research Aim: This study will address the geopolitical issues and International relations during COVID-19

Topic 2: COVID-19 is a geopolitical instrument

Research Aim: COVID-19 has disturbed everything from health to the world’s economy, and it has also created tensions among the nations of the world. This study will identify whether Coronavirus is a geopolitical instrument or not.

Topic 3: International relations scholars and COVID-19

Research Aim: This study will reveal the opinions and role of international relations scholars and COVID-19

Topic 4: Meta-geopolitics and COVID-19

Research Aim: This study will focus on the meta-geopolitics during the COVID-19 crisis

Topic 5: The global order post Coronavirus pandemic

Research Aim: This study will predict the global order post coronavirus pandemic, including international relations, geopolitics, and geo-economics after COVID-19.

2021 International Relations and Geopolitics Dissertation Titles

Topic 1. what impact would brexit have on the relations between uk and scotland.

Research Aim: the current topic would address the relationship between the United Kingdom and Scotland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. It is assumed to significantly impact the ties present between the two regions, as it is considered that the Scottish part would want to exit.

Topic 2. Pakistan-Afghanistan relations post-Taliban-US peace accord vis-à-vis US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Research Aim: the current topic would aim to analyse the Pakistan- Afghanistan relations, especially the role that Pakistan is playing in the smooth exit of the US from Afghanistan. It will also critically review the impact that the US withdrawal will have in influencing the upcoming US elections of 2020.

Topic 3. Legitimising the Taliban in Afghanistan’s combat is likely to change the peace situation in Afghanistan

Research Aim: This research topic will consider the possibilities that the Taliban’s legalisation into Afghanistan will have within Afghanistan and its surroundings. How will it affect the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

Topic 4. Exploring the status of ISIS in Afghanistan post US withdrawal

Research Aim: the current topic would aim to consider the past of ISIS, where it was, the devastation it caused in Syria. It would also analyse the future of ISIS in Afghanistan, especially considering its strong foothold in Afghanistan’s east. It will also put forward the implications of a more robust and growing ISIS presence in the regions and Afghanistan’s international relations with its neighbouring countries.

Topic 5. Possibilities of a domino effect in EU post BREXIT

Research Aim: the current topic aims to study the BREXIT deal. Considering the advantages that Britain thinks it has bagged, how much possibility is Britain creating a domino effect? It will also study the scope of which countries can opt for a BREXIT-like movement and be successful. Most importantly, the research will look into the factors that made the BREXIT deal possible.

Topic 6. The British colonisation of the Indian subcontinent and its after-effects even in the 21st century

Research Aim: The current topic aims to study in-depth the effects that the British colonisation had on the Sub-continent. It will present a detailed analysis of how British East India took over the Indian subcontinent and then gradually went from being traders to rulers. It will explain the after-effects that the British colonisation still has over the minds and culture of the people that now live divided into different countries like Pakistan and India.

Topic 7: Can the issue of Kashmir be the ultimate trigger for India-Pakistan to have a nuclear war? Can the United Kingdom play a key role instead of the US in averting this situation?

Research Aim: The current topic aims to investigate the Kashmir issue and analyze the effect that it is causing on two nuclear holding counties, namely India and Pakistan. Can the recent curfew imposed in Kashmir and revoking their special status trigger a nuclear war between India and Pakistan? Will the UN, and the US, step in as promised to resolve the issue, and will it all be in vain as nuclear war is triggered? Or can the UK play a key role in trying to avert the situation?

Topic 8. Trump’s “vision for peace” and its impact on the European Union and the UK

Research Aim: This research will investigate the scope of the current plan that Trump has put forward to divide Palestine into smaller pieces to resolve the conflict that has been going on for ages. How will this “vision for peace” implicate countries like Jordon, Iran, Egypt, etc.? It will also put forward the impact this plan would have on the rest of the world, especially the Middle East, the greater European Union, and the United Kingdom.

Topic 9. What role is the UK playing in the global warming and increasing energy crisis?

Research Aim: This study will enable the readers to understand that the threat of global warming is real. It is not localised to a specific region, country, or continent. Having said this, the current topic will perform an in-depth analysis of the growing global warming issue and what role the UK is trying to fulfill to curb the problem, raise awareness and promote going green. How big is the UK’s footprint?

Topic 10. Can the African Union be inspired by the BREXIT movement?

Research Aim: the current topic aims to look into the BREXIT movement’s success. The study’s scope will also include possibilities that the BREXIT can inspire the African Union to go their own way. Are there any indicators that this might happen shortly?

Topic 11. Analysis and Implication of US sanctions on Iran

Research Aim: the current topic aims to review the US’s sanctions upon Iran. It will also analyse the implications that the US has to face due to Iranian General Qassim Suleimani. It will explore the possibility that the US has gained the strategic advantage they were looking for or have they angered a sleeping giant. The study will also look into the retaliation strategy of Iran and if it holds any weight. How far will Iran be able to withhold these sanctions before succumbing to US wishes?

Topic 12. Human rights violation in the valley of Kashmir

Research Aim: the current topic aims to study fundamental human rights and the many violations against them in Kashmir. The recent revoking of the Kashmiris’ special status and the curfew imposed by India in the Kashmir valley are all evidence of the many violations of human rights that are happening there. The increasing number of missing persons, kidnapping, sexual and physical abuse are serious human rights violations. Why is the world keeping a shut-eye towards the Kashmiris, and where are the so-called custodians of human rights?

Topic 13. What are the political consequences of the NATO alliance for the UK?

Research Aim: the current topic aims to question the NATO alliance and the political consequences of such an alliance between multiple countries, especially in the UK. NATO might be the biggest known alliance amongst many such countries, and what political and personal gain from the UK’s perspective. The study will address the advantages and disadvantages of being a part of the UK’s NATO alliance.

Topic 14. The effect of terrorist organisations on the international relations of the UK

Research Aim: the current topic aims to explore the effects that a terrorist organisation might have on the UK’s international relations. The example under consideration would be the UK and its dealings with a terrorist plagued country like Pakistan. The study would research how the Taliban of Pakistan adversely affected its international relations and destroyed its image globally while also addressing the remedial steps that Pakistan is taking or has taken to overcome them and refurbish a new image globally. The study will also include how successful they have been in bridging the gap between them and the UK.

Topic 15. Coronavirus and International disease prevention, especially in the UK

Research Aim: this study aims to explore the extent to which Coronavirus has spread starting from China and in a concise amount of time spreading into the different corners of the world. Why was no prevention method applied? The study will implore the need to create better and more effective ways to prevent diseases from spreading across countries. The study’s scope will also include putting forward practices for a more proactive rather than reactive method to disease prevention across nations, especially in the UK. What is the UK doing right to stay and remain safe from the coronavirus?

Topic 16. “Make America Great Again” – an attempt to maintain uni-polarity in the World

Research Aim: the current topic aims to study the central ideology behind the concept of “Make America Great Again.” The world is shifting from uni-polar to multi-polar due to the newly forming alliance between China and Russia. America is trying to preserve its status, but the concern is quite prominent and evident in the slogan of “Make America Great Again”. The study’s scope will include the steps that the US is taking to maintain the status quo. It will also put forth the alliance that Russia and China are forging and the impact that it is having on the US as well as the rest of the world.

Topic 17. The implications of UK-EU and US-China trade wars on developing countries

Research Aim: The current study aims to highlight the impact that the United Kingdom and European Union and the United States and China trade wars have on developing countries’ economies. The study’s scope will include an in-depth analysis of the rising cost of living in such countries, along with the deterioration in the sector of education, health, and GDP per capita. It will also put forward the growing concerns that such developing countries are facing.

Topic 18. The relationship between Canada and the UK

Research Aim: the current topic aims to analyse Canada and the UK’s relationship critically. It is most likely to evolve now that the ex-royal couple is planning to relocate to Canada. How will the terms between Canada and the United Kingdom improve? Will they develop more, or will irreconcilable differences emerge and surface in front of the world.

Topic 19. Prince Harry and Meghan Markel leave the British Crown – How will the monarch be affected?

Research Aim: the current topic aims to study in detail the reasons that might have led to a crowned prince, 7th in line to one of the most powerful thrones in the world have to quit all royal duties and the HRH title. Will Canada accept them? What implications does it have for the taxpayers and the millions of pounds they will save on providing security for the royal couple?

Topic 20. A bright future for more strengthened relationships between the African Union and the European Union

Research Aim: the current topic aims to study in-depth the scope that a strong alliance between the European Union and the African Union will have on eliminating and improving problems in Africa. It will be providing theoretical data supported by facts and statistics. The study’s scope will also examine how developing and investing within Africa will help it overcome the internal and external problems it faces.

How Can ResearchProspect Help?

ResearchProspect writers can send several custom topic ideas to your email address. Once you have chosen a topic that suits your needs and interests, you can order for our dissertation outline service which will include a brief introduction to the topic, research questions , literature review , methodology , expected results , and conclusion . The dissertation outline will enable you to review the quality of our work before placing the order for our full dissertation writing service!

Important Notes:

As a student of international relations and geopolitics looking to get good grades, it is essential to develop new ideas and experiment with existing international relations and geopolitics theories – i.e., to add value and interest in your research topic.

The field of international relations and geopolitics is vast and interrelated to many other academic disciplines like civil engineering ,  construction ,  project management , engineering management , healthcare , finance and accounting , artificial intelligence , tourism , physiotherapy , sociology , management , and project management , graphic design , and nursing . That is why it is imperative to create a project management dissertation topic that is articular, sound, and actually solves a practical problem that may be rampant in the field.

We can’t stress how important it is to develop a logical research topic based on your entire research. There are several significant downfalls to getting your topic wrong; your supervisor may not be interested in working on it, the topic has no academic creditability, the research may not make logical sense, and there is a possibility that the study is not viable.

This impacts your time and efforts in writing your dissertation as you may end up in the cycle of rejection at the initial stage of the dissertation. That is why we recommend reviewing existing research to develop a topic, taking advice from your supervisor, and even asking for help in this particular stage of your dissertation.

While developing a research topic, keeping our advice in mind will allow you to pick one of the best international relations and geopolitics dissertation topics that fulfill your requirement of writing a research paper and add to the body of knowledge.

Therefore, it is recommended that when finalizing your dissertation topic, you read recently published literature to identify gaps in the research that you may help fill.

Remember- dissertation topics need to be unique, solve an identified problem, be logical, and be practically implemented. Please look at some of our sample international relations and geopolitics dissertation topics to get an idea for your own dissertation.

How to Structure your International Relations & Geopolitics Dissertation

A well-structured dissertation can help students to achieve a high overall academic grade.

  • A Title Page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Declaration
  • Abstract: A summary of the research completed
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction : This chapter includes the project rationale, research background, key research aims and objectives, and the research problems. An outline of the structure of a dissertation can also be added to this chapter.
  • Literature Review : This chapter presents relevant theories and frameworks by analysing published and unpublished literature available on the chosen research topic to address research questions . The purpose is to highlight and discuss the selected research area’s relative weaknesses and strengths whilst identifying any research gaps. Break down the topic, and critical terms can positively impact your dissertation and your tutor.
  • Methodology : The data collection and analysis methods and techniques employed by the researcher are presented in the Methodology chapter which usually includes research design , research philosophy, research limitations, code of conduct, ethical consideration, data collection methods, and data analysis strategy .
  • Findings and Analysis : Findings of the research are analysed in detail under the Findings and Analysis chapter. All key findings/results are outlined in this chapter without interpreting the data or drawing any conclusions. It can be useful to include graphs, charts, and tables in this chapter to identify meaningful trends and relationships.
  • Discussion and Conclusion : The researcher presents his interpretation of results in this chapter, and states whether the research hypothesis has been verified or not. An essential aspect of this section of the paper is to draw a linkage between the results and evidence from the literature. Recommendations with regards to implications of the findings and directions for the future may also be provided. Finally, a summary of the overall research, along with final judgments, opinions, and comments, must be included in the form of suggestions for improvement.
  • References : This should be completed following your University’s requirements
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices : Any additional information, diagrams, and graphs used to complete the dissertation but not part of the dissertation should be included in the Appendices chapter. Essentially, the purpose is to expand the information/data.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to find international relations and geopolitics dissertation topics.

For international relations and geopolitics dissertation topics:

  • Follow global news and conflicts.
  • Study diplomatic relations.
  • Explore historical events.
  • Analyze regional dynamics.
  • Investigate security challenges.
  • Select a specific focus that aligns with your expertise and curiosity.

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Property, land, buildings, air rights, underground rights, and underground rights are examples of real estate. Academics recognize the importance of real estate as a driver of the economy. This field will be encountered by college and university students studying business-related courses.






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  • Finding Literature Reviews

Sage Research Methods-How to Write a Literature Review

Dr. Eric Jensen, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, and Dr. Charles Laurie, Director of Research at Verisk Maplecroft, explain how to write a literature review and why researchers need to do so.

The steps of how to write a literature review discussed in the video include the following:

  • How Do You Conduct a Literature Review?
  • How Do You Find and Organize Sources of Information?
  • How Do You Assess These Sources of Information?
  • How Do You Write up Your Findings?
  • How Do You Identify Gaps in Literature?

international relations essays research papers

Other sources for Writing Literature Reviews

  • Owl Purdue - Writing a Literature Review Provides a general overview of how to write a literature review.

What's a Literature Review?

  • Acquire a better understanding of the current state of knowledge in a particular discipline or field of study, providing context for a research project.
  • Identify key concepts, theories, methodologies, and other findings related to their research topic, which helps researchers in build theoretical frameworks based on established theories and concepts.
  • Identify gaps in a disciplinary area where there is a lack of research or conflicting findings, and highlight major questions that should be addressed in further literature.

Types of Literature Reviews

  • Narrative literature reviews provide a general, qualitative summary of the literature. Narrative reviews focus on only a few studies that describe a topic of interest and are not systematic. Undergraduates writing research papers for the first time are usually assigned to write this type of review.
  • Systematic reviews  follow a structured and rigorous methodology to systematically gather, analyze, and synthesize all relevant studies on a specific topic of literature. Systematic reviews use specific criteria to decide what literature to include in the review. Systematic reviews are primarily used in the medical and psychological literature.
  • Meta-analyses  combine empirical statistical analysis research and data from multiple studies. The terms meta-analysis and systematic review are often used interchangeably.
  • Scoping reviews map the literature in a broad sense to identify key themes and gaps. Unlike systematic reviews, which have a narrow focus, scoping reviews are broader in scope and explore a diversity of the available literature in a given field.

Resources for Locating Literature Reviews

Published literature reviews of all types are found in a variety of research databases. It is important to search different databases to locate relevant reviews. Regardless of the databases used, the following searches can be helpful:

  • " literature review " OR " review of the literature " AND " your research topic/question/key terms "
  • " systematic review " AND " your research topic/question/key terms "  
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The Zimmerman Telegram: a Controversial Diplomatic Incident

This essay is about the Zimmerman Telegram sent in 1917 during World War I which proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico against the United States. The telegram’s interception and disclosure by British intelligence shifted American public opinion and pressured President Woodrow Wilson to enter the war. This diplomatic communication significantly impacted international relations accelerating the U.S. entry into World War I and contributing to the eventual defeat of Germany and its allies.

How it works

The Telegram of Zimmerman sent here 1917 during World War I becomes a central moment in diplomatic history what is characterized by his debatable world and substantial operating on international mutual relations. This telegram originates from German Minister for foreign affairs Arthur Zimmerman offered military alliance between Germany and Mexico against the united states must America inculcate war on the side of Allies.

In his kernel Telegram of Zimmerman aimed to distract American attention and distant supplies Europe that is why potentially changing a war course in the German deputy.

Suggestion promised to Mexico adjusting of territories of loss in Texas New_ Mexico and to Arizona instead of their alliance motion designed to exploit longstanding tension between Mexico and united states.

However intercept and decoding of Telegram of Zimmerman marked a turning point the British news. British row aspiring to draw aside the states united in war on their side strategic wanted to educe content of telegram to American power. To provoke revelation of the German secret attempt Mexico in a military operation against the united states the caused violation and indignation among American society and higher officials identically.

In reply to a telegram public sense in the united states moved resolutely in the direction of support of the American entrance to World War of I. President Woodrow Wilson in good time protecting for neutrality now ran into placing of pressure to awaken judicial business against Germany. The later public protest combined with content of telegram played central role to swaying Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917.

Precipitations from Telegram of Zimmerman were far-reaching. Then not only accelerated the American bringing in the world War I but and assisted the possible defeat of Germany and his allies. Diplomatic consequences were deep as a trust between people ate away and concept international diplomacy of underwent attentive review.

Upon completion Telegram of Zimmerman stands how the absolute example of that how only diplomatic communication can deeply influence on global businesses. Him interception and later disclosure gave a kind new course of history illustrating delicate balance of powers and unforeseeable nature of international mutual relations during times of conflict.


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Written Debates as an Esp Controlling Task: Challenges and Further Perspectives

15 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2024

Olga Karamalak

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Ksenia Vertlib

HSE University

The research aims to examine the effectiveness of written debate format as a controlling assessment task in ESP for International Relations, by analyzing students’ works with the focus on typical mistakes in the content and language used. The survey comprises 98 students at undergraduate university level, namely the third year of studies. To make the analysis of the task and its evaluation more objective, students were asked to fill in the feedback form to learn about their attitude to the task, skills they feel they have developed and challenges they have faced in order to facilitate the given task and provide recommendations for further practice of debates in writing. Results confirm that written debates allow more time for thinking and can be helpful in further real discussions on different professional forums online. Also, results reveal that the most difficult part of the task – to form a counterargument. Hence, more exercises are required to overcome this challenge and three types of discursive attack should be practiced: rebutter of conclusion, undercutter, and rebutter of premise. In particular, students might be encouraged to determine and unfold logical fallacies, if any, or find illogical connections between the argument and the example provided.

Keywords: critical thinking, argument, debate, ESP, tertiary education, teaching English

Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation

Olga Karamalak (Contact Author)

National research university higher school of economics (moscow) ( email ).

Myasnitskaya street, 20 Moscow, Moscow 119017 Russia

HSE University ( email )

https://www.hse.ru/eng Moscow Russia

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  • DOI: 10.56976/jsom.v3i2.60
  • Corpus ID: 270856048

Language Learning Motivation in Pakistan: An Analysis of Social and Psychological Reactance in Pakistan

  • Sajad Ali , Ghulam Abbas , Jamil Ahmed
  • Published in Journal of Social &amp… 28 June 2024
  • Linguistics, Education, Psychology
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