cod. 1007963

Academic year 2019/20
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Storia delle dottrine politiche (SPS/02)
Type of training activity
54 hours
of face-to-face activities
9 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course’s main aim is twofold: on the one hand, students will be provided with a basic knowledge on the dynamics that shape international politics (from past to more recent and current developments); on the other hand, it is expected that students will acquire both the basic analytical tools and the ability to critically understand those dynamics through the lenses of great International Relations (IR) paradigms.

Knowledge and understanding
The course will provide students with a deep knowledge of authors, works and topics that have characterized the discipline’s main debates, putting them in historical perspective. At the end of the course, students will acquire the ability to critically understand IR main approaches (realism, liberalism, constructivism and the English School) and to interpret major events and dynamics of current international politics.

Applying knowledge and understanding.
The course will take in consideration main IR theoretical approaches and, for each of them, a case study taken from recent history will be analyzed. Recent international politics dynamics and possible future scenarios will be considered, with a specific focus on current international events and phenomena. At the end of the course, students should acquire the ability to analyze current international politics main issues and to critically understand the debate on the causes of war, peace, cooperation and conflict. The analysis of IR great traditions will help students to develop their own critical understanding of the events and dynamics that have shaped international politics over the last few decades, providing them with the capacity to interpret and evaluate future political scenarios. 

Making judgments

On the basis of historical and theoretical analytical tools, and through the reference to the thought of authors that have contributed to shape IR main theoretical debates, at the end of the course students will gain the ability to critically interpret international politics major dynamics. They should also be able to present their own point of view on the current political debate in a clear and proper manner, also taking in consideration other existing analytical perspectives


The study of International Politics represents a discipline that is even more relevant today. As for other social sciences, International Relations is characterized by its own jargon and its own way to present concepts and theoretical paradigms. At the end of the course, students should be able to clearly express and debate IR issues, also with the reference to the main theoretical views and approaches that characterize the discipline.

Learning skills
At the end of the course, students are expected to acquire the ability to delve further into International Relations main issues and to attend with proficiency any advanced course in International Politics.


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Course unit content

The course will provide students with an overview of International Relations’ (IR) main theoretical approaches (realism, liberalism, constructivism and the English School) and debates (the causes of war, the liberal peace, the clash of civilization).

The course is divided into three main sections. During the course, two workshops will be scheduled.

- The first part will be devoted to the analysis of great IR theoretical traditions (realism, liberalism and the English School), with reference to the work of classical political thinkers (i.e. Hobbes, Machiavelli, Locke, Kant and Grotius) and to the impact of their intellectual heritage on modern IR literature.

- In the second part, more recent approaches (neorealism, neoliberalism and constructivism), mechanisms (alliances, the balance of power) and theories (the structure of the international system, the democratic peace) will be discussed.

- The final part will focus on three highly debated topics in IR: international institutions (Why do state cooperate? How do they bargain?), domestic conflict (Why do civil wars occur? How do they end?) and terrorism (How does terrorism work? How does it end?).

Full programme

A detailed class schedule will be available on Elly before the beginning of the course.


All students: the required readings for the final exam include 16 e-book chapters and 1 journal article.
Moreover, attending students will be evaluated on the topics that are discussed in class, while non-attending students are required to study an additional book (see below).
All required readings are available on the internet for purchase (e-book chapters). The journal article can be downloaded for free through the Unipr e-library system (ask the instructor for any problem).

Required readings (all students):
13 E-book chapters from Andreatta F. (ed. by) 2017, Classic Works in International Relations, EBOOK available at

1. Introduction: International Relations in the 21st Century, by Filippo Andreatta
2. Chapter 1. Norman Angell: The Illusion of War, by Francesco Raschi
3. Chapter 2. Edward Carr: Utopia and Reality, by Michele Chiaruzzi
4. Chapter 3. Hans Morgenthau: The Struggle for Power and Peace, by Lorenzo Zambernardi
5. Chapter 5. Raymond Aron: Peace and War. A Sociological Account of International Relations, by Francesco Raschi
6. Chapter 7. Hedley Bull: In Search of International Order, by Michele Chiaruzzi
7. Chapter 8. Kenneth Waltz: Anarchy and International Politics, by Marco Clementi
8. Chapter 9. Robert Gilpin: Hegemonic Stability and War, by j. Tyson Chatagnier
9. Chapter 10. Robert Keohane: The Promises of Cooperation, by Arlo Poletti
10. Chapter 12. Samuel Huntington: Civilizations in Conflict, by Emanuele Castelli
11. Chapter 13. Alexander Wendt: The Social Construction of International Politics, by Lorenzo Zambernardi
12. Chapter 14. Bruce Russett and John Oneal: Investigating the Liberal Legacy, by Eugenia Baroncelli
13. Chapter 15. Stathis Kalyvas: Making Sense of Senseless Violence, by Francesco N Moro

3 E-book chapters from Reiter D. (ed. by) 2018, Understanding War and Peace, available for purchase at:
1. Chapter 1: Bargaining and War, by Dan Reiter
2. Chapter 2: International Alliances, by Dan Reiter
3. Chapter 8: Civil Wars, by Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham

- 1 journal article:
Andrew H. Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, 2006, The strategies of terrorism, International Security 31(1): 49-80 (available in pdf through the Unipr network system or from the instructor)

Additional book for non-attending students:
- Robert Jackson, Georg Sørensen, Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons, during which students will be involved on international politics’ main debates. Some workshop sessions are also scheduled at the end of each section.
The slides will be uploaded on Elly ( on a weekly basis. They may help either attending or non attending Students in preparing their exam, but they do not substitute for the readings.

Assessment methods and criteria

NB: during the period of suspension of all teaching activities for the COVID-19 health emergency, exams will be oral through MS Teams. Students will be provided few days before with a timetable

The final exam is written (1hour and 30min). An oral exam (optional) may be scheduled to discuss any possible problem concerning the written test (at least 3 questions for 3 points).

The written exam will be the same both for attendant and non-attendant students. It will include 10 open questions: 5 questions will deal with topics discussed during the lectures, while the remaining 5 questions will be based on the required readings only. Students will be asked to select and answer 5 questions of their choice (6 points max for each question: total 30/30).

Overall, the exam will assess Students’ knowledge and understanding of IR main views. In order to pass the exam, students must show a basic knowledge of IR concepts, approaches and paradigm. In addition, they will be also evaluated on their ability to critically understand IR main approaches.

Students with a good knowledge of IR main paradigms will be further assessed on their ability to apply them to current themes of international politics and/or to specific case studies. In their answers, they should also demonstrate their ability to making autonomous judgments and to critically assess both the relevance and the limits of IR main approaches (realism, liberalism, constructivism and the English School) for the study of current international politics.

Finally, the exam is also aimed at verifying Students’ proficiency in IR specific jargon and their ability to clearly express and describe IR issues.

Results will be available within 10 days.

Other information

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