cod. 1007963

Academic year 2021/22
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.
Through the involvement in workshops and discussion in class, attending students can also acquire expressive, critical and communicative skills of great importance also in view of their future work, in any occupational field.
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.


Course unit content

The course will provide an in-depth overview of the main theoretical approaches to International Relations (realism, liberalism and constructivism) and of the main debate in contemporary international politics (hegemony, bargaining, civil war and terrorism).

The course is divided into six main modules:

the first module will be devoted to the analysis of the great theoretical traditions of International Relations (realism, liberalism and constructivism), with reference to the classics of political thought (Hobbes, Machiavelli, Locke, Kant) and the impact of their thought on recent International Relations literature.

The second module will discuss the concept of hegemonic cycle in the international system, focusing on the neo-realist (power transition) and neo-liberal (leadership) contributions, then analyzing the role of China as a possible challenger of the order established by the American hegemony after the Second World War.

The third module will focus on the rationalist approach of international relations, examining in particular the so-called bargaining theory of war, for which war would be the result of bargaining failure between two actors, and examining concepts such as committment and information asymmetry. The conflict between Israel and the. Palestinians will be the case study for this module

In the fourth module we will consider the wide literature on civil wars: the causes of intra-state conflicts, the factors contributing to their duration, the role of external intervention and the reasons for their end or recurrence, analyzing both quantitative and qualitative contributions and taking the conflict in Yemen as a case study.

The fifth module will explore a particular type of civil war: identity-based conflict. The discussion will be on the role of ethnicity, religion and identity in civil wars, as well as the logic of political violence in those contexts; in this module, the genocide in Rwanda will be particularly considered as a case study.

The sixth and final module will analyze the phenomenon of terrorism (definition, conditions favorable to its emergence, conditions leading to its end) and its strategic logic, examining in particular the scope of international terrorism (ISIS, Al-Qaeda).

At the beginning of the course, attending students will be divided into 2 groups that will be involved, according to the indications provided by the teacher, in the realization of outputs expected in relation to the different modules. For each module, a journal article or a public seminar/workshop will be realized. Overall, by the end of the course, each group will be asked to write at least 3 newspaper articles/interviews and to actively participate in 3 seminars/videos with the stakeholders involved in the project.

Full programme

The extended program will be available on Elly


Given the involvement of the attending students in teaching activities and workshops (see section "Teaching Methods"), a dedicated reading list (book chapters and scientific articles) closely related to the activity carried out in class and weighted according to the commitment required, will be provided for the attending students, in order to encourage active participation in class. This reading list will substitute the required readings for non-attendants and will be provided by the Professor - together with instructions on how to find them - at the beginning of the course. Note: in order to be considered as attending the course, at least 75% of the lessons - i.e. at least 23 lessons out of 27 - must be attended.
For non-attending students, the required bibliography for the final exam is composed by 23 book chapters and 1 journal article.
7 chapters from this handbook: Robert Jackson, Jørgen Møller, Georg Sørensen, Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019 (chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 11).
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)
Apart from the handbook by Jackson, Møller & Sørensen, 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).

Teaching methods

In the academic year 2021/22, the course will be reframed in an engaged learning mode, because of the participation of the University in the European project CaST - Community & Students Together ( In this perspective, attending students will be asked to actively participate in workshop classes. They will be divided in groups and each working group (attending students only) will be asked to write two commentary articles for a local newspaper (possibly based on interviews with privileged witnesses) and to contribute to the organization of events (in particular seminars or workshops) addressed to high schools, other university students and citizens. For the success of the project, a constant attendance to the course is required (presence to at least 75% of the lessons - i.e. to at least 23 lessons out of 27 - to be considered attending) and the reading of the material provided by the teacher in advance of each lesson (Anglo-Saxon method).
For each module, the course is developed through the following teaching methods:
frontal lectures, in which the basic knowledge will be provided with regard to the module’s topic;

in-class discussion on the topic of the module, in which the readings provided in advance by the teacher will be discussed;

workshop activities, in which specific outputs related to the different modules will be prepared.
The slides used in class - together with all the material deemed useful for the project - will be uploaded in advance on Elly for attending students.
Since this year the course is significantly different for students and non-attendees, the latter will be able to study also through dedicated slides that the teacher will make available in a special section of Elly.

Assessment methods and criteria

Students attending the course (i.e. those who attend at least 75% of the classes) will be evaluated in progress, assigning a grade in thirtieths in relation to each module; the final grade will be the average of the marks obtained in progress in the 6 modules.
The final grade may be integrated with an oral exam.
For each module, the evaluation will take place during the debate phase and in the workshop phase, and will take into consideration
the level of knowledge of the readings provided in advance by the Lecturer and the understanding of the concepts discussed in the lectures (50% of the grade);

the level of participation in class during the discussion phase and the ability to apply the acquired knowledge to specific case studies (25% of the grade);

the individual contribution to the production of the output of each module, the ability to formulate independent judgments and the overall quality, also in terms of critical analysis and expressive ability, during the production of the group output (25% of the grade).

For non-attending students, the exam is oral and can be taken either in Italian or in English.
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.
Honors will be awarded, in exceptional cases, only to Students who demonstrate excellent knowledge of the subjects.

Please note: in case of a continuing health emergency and depending on the evolution of the emergency, the exam can be held in presence, in mixed mode (i.e. in presence, but with the possibility of taking it also remotely for the students who request it to the Professor), or in online mode only. The chosen mode will be promptly communicated on Esse3 in advance.

Other information

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