This seminar will examine two fundamentally different approaches to the analysis of international relations.  The first of these is based largely on a study and understanding of history, philosophy and, to a lesser extent, law (or normative considerations).  The second relies heavily on the behaviouralist and other methods of the social scientist.  The first is commonly referred to as the ‘classical’ approach; the second is the ‘scientific’. 




Seminar Questions:

  1. Outline the main features of the ‘Classical’ and ‘Scientific’      approaches to IR.
  2. How would a behaviouralist explain the current situation in Syria compared to a more traditional theorist? 
  3. Can facts be separated from values in IR? Discuss with reference to behaviouralist (scientific) and traditional (classical) approaches to IR.


Baylis, Smith and Owens, The Globalization of World Politics, Chapter 7

Hedley Bull, “International Theory: The Case for a Classical Approach”, World Politics, April 1966.

Morton A Kaplan, “The New Great Debate: Traditionalism vs Science in International Relations”, World Politics, October 1966.

K. Waltz, Theory of International Politics  (Excerpt from Book - Chapter 8 is key)

Other readings

Brown and Ainley, Understanding International Relations, Chapter 3.

Burchill et al., Theories of International Relations, Chapters 2 and 3.

Dunne et al., International Relations Theories, Chapters 4 and 6.

Jackson and Sorensen, Introduction to International Relations, Chapters 3 (p.  70-96) and Chapter 4

Suggested Movie: Wargames (1983) - A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III.

Here are some more clips to help understand some of the key concepts in this class:



This one is a little more... uh... sexist, but it dramatizes the formulation of Nash's theory.