This is the syllabus from the last time I taught INR 5007 (International Relations core seminar) at Florida State University. It will obviously need to be updated before I ever teach PSCI 5810 (International Relations proseminar) at the University of North Texas.

INR 5007: International Relations Core Seminar

Dr. Paul Hensel
Phone: 644-7318
Office: 563 BEL


Spring 2004 Semester
Tues. 2:30-5:00 PM
113 Bellamy Building
Office Hours: Th 3:00-5:00,
F 2:30-3:30

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to familiarize you with some of the broad themes in the study of international relations, in preparation for advanced training, research, or qualifying examinations in this area. The course is organized around points of common interest to scholars of international relations, such as the underlying nature of the international system, sources of militarized conflict between states, and the prospects for cooperation. The focus is on scholarly research, not current events or policy formulation.

No single unified theory of international relations will be developed or emphasized in this course. As the readings and class discussions will make clear, there are numerous theoretical, methodological, and policy issues in the study of international relations. One of the goals of the class is to offer students the opportunity to develop their own positions on these key disciplinary issues. This syllabus attempts to assist in this process by including the key pathbreaking books or articles wherever possible, supplemented by articles or chapters making recent developments; literature reviews are generally avoided.

It should be noted that this course is meant to prepare students to take more advanced seminars in the political science department at FSU, rather than to replace these other seminars. As a result, this course will not spend much time on topics that are covered extensively in subsequent courses such as INR 5036 (International Political Economy), PSCI 5820 (International Conflict), INR 5090 (Rational Choice in International Relations), or regular "special topics" courses such as Will Moor's "Violent Political Conflict" or Paul Hensel's "Contexts and International Relations." Interested students are urged to contact the relevant instructors for syllabi or more information to help with further reading on the topics, and to take these courses when offered.

Assigned Readings (available locally at the FSU bookstore, or online at such locations as,,, or

*David A. Baldwin (1993). Neorealism and Neoliberalism: The Contemporary Debate. New York: Columbia University Press.
*Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye (2001). Power and Interdependence, third edition. New York: Longman.
*John A. Vasquez (1993). The War Puzzle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Kenneth Waltz (1979). Theory of International Politics. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

*Paul R. Viotti and Mark V. Kauppi (1999). International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism, and Beyond, third edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
*James E. Dougherty and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff Jr. (2001). Contending Theories of International Relations, fifth edition. New York: Longman.

All other readings may be borrowed for copying from the instructor's office (550 Bellamy) and will be available at least one week before the readings are due. The optional texts are provided for students who are not sufficiently confident in their previous international relations background, or who desire additional background material. Interested students are encouraged to read one or both before the course begins, or before we cover each individual topic. It should be noted, though, that neither optional book can serve as a substitute for the assigned readings on this syllabus.

Course Requirements

(1) Attendance and Participation

Because this is a graduate seminar, the instructor will not run class meetings as a lecture; all students are expected to come to each class meeting prepared to discuss the readings. This will involve spending the time to read each book or article on the reading list, and thinking about what each reading contributes to the weekly topic. Class discussion every week will focus on such issues as the theoretical arguments being made (both explicitly and implicitly), the empirical evidence that is marshaled to test these arguments (where relevant), weaknesses or shortcomings of the work so far, and potential directions for future research. Class participation will count for 30% of the overall course grade, with penalties being assessed for students who miss class or who show up unprepared.

(2) Short Papers / In-Class Presentations
Beyond regular attendance and active participation in class discussion, each student is expected to make four brief (10 minutes or so) in-class presentations on the weekly topics, based on a short (5-page) paper to be handed in at the start of class; a signup sheet will be provided during the second week of class, with presentations beginning in the third week. These papers and presentations must address specific discussion topics related to the week's readings, which are provided as part of this syllabus; the student must choose one of the two topics that are provided for each week of the course.

These presentations are meant to help focus the class discussion on important topics related to the week's readings. As a result, each presentation will be followed by a period of general class reaction and discussion (with the presenter being given a chance for rebuttal). Each short paper / presentation will count for 10% of the overall course grade, for a total of 40%.

The following general grading scale will be used for participation and presentations:
*A to A-: The student made a very strong contribution to the course. Class discussion, comments, and/or presentations reflected a great deal of thought about the material, and were constructive (for example, not only identifying current weaknesses and showing how these weaknesses limit the current literature, but suggesting useful future directions that could help to overcome these weaknesses or to extend the literature in important ways).

*B+ to B-: The student contributed meaningfully to the course. Class participation and/or presentations went beyond repeating the assigned material, perhaps identifying weaknesses in the current literature, but did not make many constructive suggestions about how these weaknesses might be overcome or how the literature might usefully be extended in the future.

*C+ or lower: The student did not contribute meaningfully. Class participation and/or presentations were limited to repeating the assigned material rather than making connections or extensions, or was filled with mistakes and inaccuracies.

*F: The student was a net drain on the course, rarely if ever speaking in class or failing to make the required number of presentations.

(3) Final Paper

The final course requirement is a longer paper (20-25 pages). This paper is meant to supplement the relatively brief coverage that the syllabus gives to a variety of large topics by requiring students to go through the intellectual history and development of a more focused topic. This final paper must be turned in to the instructor's office by the course's scheduled exam time (10:00 AM on Thursday, December 13), and will count for 30% of the overall course grade. To help students get an early enough start on this paper, topics must be turned in and approved by the instructor by the end of September. Examples of published review articles accomplishing similar tasks can be found in many issues of such journals as World Politics and International Studies Review, as well as in special issues of other journals such as the Autumn 1998 issue of International Organization (several articles from which are included in this syllabus).

The fourteen weekly topics in this syllabus generally address very important topics that are relevant to much or all of the field of international relations, but must be addressed with a relatively small number of readings (generally ten or less). While these few readings can give students a good feel for the key works in the field or for some of the most important recent developments, they do not help students develop an appreciation of the intellectual history of the topics or of their development over time. For this final paper, each student must pick a focused topic from the international relations literature, such as the relationship between alliances or international system structure and war, the democratic peace, the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, or the role of international trade in economic development. Once the topic has been approved, the student must trace the development of the topic over time; this will involve identifying the early work that led to the topic originally, placing the topic in the context of the larger issues and approaches covered in this course, and discussing the key works in the development of the topic (including discussion of theoretical arguments, research design and methodology, and key findings). The paper should conclude by assessing the current state of knowledge on this topic, the extent to which knowledge in this area has cumulated and progressed over time rather than stagnating or regressing (reflecting the materials covered in the second meeting), and the most important directions for future research.

Course Outline

For the weekly schedule of topics, assigned readings, and optional readings, please download the complete syllabus in PDF format.
Last updated: 4 July 2008
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