International relation theory

International relation theory
analytical (critical) essay.
2,000 words to include two reflections on key concepts
Can be and analytical essay about or
 Human Nature: Critiquing the Concepts of Identity & Gender

What Can Human Nature Tell Us About States’ Behaviour?
Race and Racialisation in International Relations
“What Role does Gender Play in War
What Role Does Identity Play in IR?

As a final piece of advice:

Be sure to cite frequently and interact with the literature.
Be sure to develop your narrative in a way that methodically advances your discussion of the concept
Your conclusion should draw inferences from the essay main body. That is, do not come to conclusions not supported by what your essay discussed.
Your conclusion should be “forceful” – that is, convincing and well-supported
Be sure to provide a robust bibliography of sources at the end of each 1,000-word essay. All scholarly writing at this level must be accompanied by a bibliography of sources.
You can frame your chosen concept within a question: Example #1: “What Role Does Identity Play in IR?” or Example #2: “What Role does Gender Play in War?” et cetera
You can even work the concept into a case study, such as: “What Was the Role of Race in the Civil War of America”? Et cetera
Likewise, you can simply choose to discuss a concept, such as; “Classical Realism and the Role of Human Nature” Et cetera.
The permutations of possible topics/questions/ways to discuss a concept are endless. It is up to you to use your discretion in addressing the two concepts you pick for your portfolio. What is important is that your demonstrate intercourse with the literature in developing your narrative around the concept.

In developing a scholarly narrative that demonstrates critical (analytical) reasoning. You need to ask yourselves a range of questions: (1) before you begin writing, (2) as you write, and (3) when you assume your essay is finally ready for submission.
Some of the questions you should be asking might include:

How is my chosen concept defined? Why?
What is the background to the concept, and how  has the current debate been shaped over time?
What are the main features of the debate around the concept?
Can I tie the concept to one of the  case studies discussed in class?
What are the central narratives that  the main literature sources on the concept all help build up?
What case studies can I employ (as a form of evidence) to help validate  the approaches I adopt (premises) to support my position around the subject (argument).
Is there a counter-argument to the  dominant popular debate around the subject?
If so, what is this counter-argument and how can I weave it into the narrative?
What is the rebuttal to the counter-argument? A rebuttal is meant to weaken the counter-argument without rehashing your original argument

Does my  essay have a coherent, logical structure?
Do my sentences link well?

Each 1,000-word section of the portfolio should focus on a critical concept/theory discussed by the final lecture before reading lists. That is, any lecture/topic can be chosen, until Lecture 8.
Each 1,000-word section of the portfolio should include the following:

A brief introductory paragraph.
A paragraph summarizing the concept and its relevance to International Relations.
Two or three paragraphs that together conduct a critical analysis of the subject in question.

We shall discuss the details of conducting a critical analysis in “Lecture 2: Employing a mix
of theory and case studies to write an analytical (critical) essay.”

One or two paragraphs discussing a case study that validates the theory concepts discussed

so far in the portfolio

A recognition of the opposing views, within the critical analysis and in the discussion of the

case study

A summary that intelligently makes inferences from the portfolio main body.
Competent and consistent referencing, with a complete bibliography of sources at the end.

Applying Theory to the Modern International Order
Thucydides: What Can Human Nature Tell Us About States’ Behaviour?
Critical concepts I: Human Nature

Essential Reading

Primary Source – Thucydides (translated by Rex Warner), History of the Peloponnesian War (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), Pages 1-17; Book 1 and Book 2.
Donald Kagan, ‘The Peloponnesian War 431-404 BC,’ in Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (Anchor Doubleday 1985, 15-80)
Mary Beard, Which Thucydides Can You Trust? New York Review of Books, September 30th 2010:

Additional Reading

S.N. Jaffe, ‘The Risks and Rewards of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War,’ War on the Rocks, July 6 2017,
Russell Meiggs, The Athenian Empire (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972) pp. 23-43.
Andrew R. Novo, ‘Where We Get Thucydides Wrong: The Fallacies of History’s First

“Hegemonic” War,’ Diplomacy and Statecraft, Volume 27, 2016 – Issue 1.

Eric Robinson, ‘What Thucydides Teaches us About War, Politics and the Human

Condition,’ War on the Rocks, August 9 2017,

Kori Schake, ‘The Summer of Misreading Thucydides,’ The Atlantic, 18 July 2017, thucydides/533859/
Human Nature: Critiquing the Concepts of Identity & Gender
Race and Racialisation in International Relations
Critical concepts II: Identity, Gender, and Race
Essential Reading

Tilden J. Le Melle, Race in International Relations, International Studies Perspectives, Volume 10, Issue 1, February 2009, Pages 77–83, 3585.2008.00359.x
R. J. Vincent. “Race in International Relations.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), vol. 58, no. 4, 1982, pp. 658–670. JSTOR,
Martin van Creveld, ‘The Great Illusion: Women in the Military’, Millennium, vol.29, no.2, (June 2000), pp.429-442. [N.B. Read van Creveld and Elshtain together]
Jean Bethke Elshtain, ”Shooting’ at the Wrong Target: A Response to van Creveld’, Millennium, vol.29, no.2, (June 2000), pp. 443-448

Additional Reading

Saldanha, A. (2011) ‘The concept of race,’ Geography 96 (1): 27-33.

Song, M. (2018) ‘Why we still need to talk about race, Ethnic and Racial Studies 41 (6):


Mark Tessler, Jodi Nachtwey, and Audra Grant, “Further Tests of the Women and Peace

Hypothesis: Evidence from Cross-National Survey Research in the Middle East,” International Studied Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 3 (September 1999), pp. 519-532.
Case Study: American Civil War
Realism Essential Reading

James M. McPherson, “What Caused the Civil War?,” North and South, 4 (Nov. 2000), 12–22
T. Dunne and B.C. Schmidt, “Chapter 6: Realism,” in J. Baylis, S. Smith and P. Owens (Eds.), The Globalisation of World Politics (Oxford, 2014), pp. 99-112.
Barry Posen, ‘The Best Defense,’ The National Interest, No. 67 (Spring 2002) pp. 119-26.

Handbook of International Relations (Oxford, 2008)
Additional Reading
§ John J. Mearsheimer, “Structural Realism,” in Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith, eds.
International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, 3rd Edition (Oxford, 2013), pp. 77-

John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, (New York & London: W.W.

Norton, 2001).

Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948).
Kenneth Waltz, ‘Realist Thought and Neorealist Theory,’ Journal of International Affairs, Vol.

44, Issue 1, (Spring 1990) pp. 21-37 

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