83138 - Geopolitics of international Systems

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will know the main explanatory theories of the war. They will have become familiar with the classical scholars of the sector and will also master contemporary literature. The topics that student will have to know in depth will cover the causes and consequences of wars, the different types of war that occurred in human history, the transformations of wars and the political, economic, technological causes of these transformations, as well as the conditions that must be present in order to make them stable. Furthermore, the student will know the methods of investigation most commonly used in the study of war.

Course contents

The course is divided in four sections. After a brief introduction on the notion of geopolitics and a general overview of the relationship between geography and political processes, the first section is devoted to consider the role of the spatial dimension in the processes of building political authority. To this end, topics such as the development of the political space in the transition between nomadic communities and sedentary communities, the forms of political communities (cities, proto-states, empires) in antiquity and the role of violence in the establishment and functioning of these are analyzed. 

The second section of the course traces the creation of the "global space" through the analysis of the age of ascent and the consolidation of the world domination of European countries. The causes of this supremacy, the strategies of the states and the forms of governance of the empires will be analyzed.

The third section is devoted to the debate on the forms of political authority alternative to the nation-state in the current international order. Particular attention will be given to the hypotheses related to the rise of so-called neo-medievalism, the research on rebel governance, the contributions of the so-called "new hierarchy" studies and research on the notion of "heterarchies".

The last section takes up the theoretical debate on geopolitics, considering the evolution of "geopolitical theory". The link between classical and contemporary debate, the current use of the geopolitical term, the idea of "popular geopolitics" will be taken into consideration.


Students who regularly attend classes: please see the Italian version of the Contents.

Students who do not regularly attend classes:

Diamond, J. (2005). Armi, acciaio e malattie. Torino, Einaudi.

Goldstone J. (2010). Perché l'Europa? L'ascesa dell'occidente nella storia mondiale. 1500-1850. Bologna, Il Mulino, capp. 1-4, 6 e 8.

Panebianco A. (2018). Persone e mondi. Azioni individuali e ordine internazionale. Bologna, Il Mulino, capp. 4, 5, 8, 9.

Robins, N. (2017). The corporation that changed the world: how the East India Company shaped the modern multinational. Pluto Press. Sul sito: http://oapen.org

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars, class presentations 

Assessment methods

Students who regularly attend classes:written mid-term (2 essay questions) & final (2 essay questions)

Students who do not regularly attend classes: written final (3 essay questions)

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Niccolò Moro