78135 - International Politics (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Gender equality Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to achieve advanced knowledge of the main contemporary theories of international relations (realism, liberalism, constructivism). At the end of the course, students will command the most important debates within the IR literature, and will have developed the analytical skills necessary to understand the functioning of the contemporary international system.

Course contents

The course examines the most important theories of international politics and foreign policy, with a particular focus on constructivism, liberalism, and realism. We will also study some key concepts of international relations such as the balance of power, hegemony, war, and cooperation.


Filippo Andreatta (a cura di), 2011, Le grandi opere delle relazioni internazionali, Bologna.

1) Introduction

- No reading

2) International Relations Theory

- Alessandro Colombo, 2012, "Stato e relazioni internazionali", in F. Andreatta et al., Relazioni internazionali, seconda edizione, Il Mulino, Bologna, pp. 17-51.

- Jack Snyder, 2004, “One World, Rival Theories,” Foreign Policy, Nov., 52-62

3) Classical realism I

- Tucidide, “Dialogo tra gli Ateniesi e i Meli,” La guerra del Peloponneso, V, 84-114.

4) Classical realism II

- Hans J. Morgenthau, 1948, Politics Among Nations, cap. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

5) Structural realism

- Kenneth N. Waltz, 1977, Theory of International Politics, capp. 1, 3, 4, 5.

6) Balance of power

- Kenneth N. Waltz, 1977, Theory of International Politics, cap. 6

- Paul Schroeder, 1994, “Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory,” International Security, 19, 1, 108-148.

7) Hegemony

- Raymond Aron, 1970, Pace e guerra tra le nazioni, cap. 5.

- Robert Gilpin, 1988, “The Theory of Hegemonic War,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18, 4, 591-613.

8) Classical liberalism

- Michael Howard, War and the Liberal Conscience, London.

9) Contemporary liberalism

- Andrew Moravcsik, 1997, “Taking Preferences Seriously: A Liberal Theory of International Politics,” International Organization, 51, 4, 513-553.

- Michael W Doyle, 1983, Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part 1 & 2, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 12, 3, 4, 205-235, 323-353.

10) The problem of cooperation

- Robert Axelrod, Robert O. Keohane, 1985, “Achieving Cooperation under Anarchy: Strategies and Institutions,” World Politics, 38, 1, 226-254

- Joseph M. Grieco, 1988, “Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism,” International Organization, 42, 3, 485-507

11) International Society

- Martin Wight, 1987, “An anatomy of International Thought,” Review of International Studies, 13, 221-227.

- Hedley Bull, 1977, The Anarchical Society: A Study of World Politics, New York, Columbia University Press, cap. 2, 3.

12) Constructivism

- Antonio Gramsci, 1917, “La rivoluzione contro il Capitale,” L'Avanti, 24 novembre.

- Alexander Wendt, 1999, Social Theory of International Politics, capp. 1, 3.

13) Social theory of international politics

- Alexander Wendt, 1999, Social Theory of International Politics, capp. 6, 7.

14) Constructivism and the use of force

- Richard Price, 1995, “A Genealogy of the Chemical Weapons Taboo,” International Organization, 49, 1, pp. 73-103.

- Martha Finnemore, The Purpose of Intervention, Cornell University Press, capp. 1, 3.

15) Armed conflicts in the current world

Human Security Report 2013, download at http://www.hsrgroup.org/human-security-reports/2013/overview.aspx.

16) The causes of war

Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War, cap. 8.

James Fearon, 1995, “Rationalist Explanations for War,” International Organization, 49 (Summer), 379-414.

17) Insurgency and terrorism

Lorenzo Zambernardi, "Counterinsurgency's Impossible Trilemma", Washington Quarterly, 33, 3, pp. 21-34.

18) International Political Economy

Watson, M., "The Historical Roots of Theoretical Traditions in Global Political Economy", in J. Ravenhill (a cura di), Global Political Economy, Oxford University Press.

19) Foreign policy analysis

- Graham T. Allison, 1969, “Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” The American Political Science Review, 63, 3, 689-718.

- Robert Jervis, 1988, “War and Misperception,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18, 4, 675-700.

20) Conclusion

- Lorenzo Zambernardi, “Politics is too important to be left to political scientists,” European Journal of International Relations, forthcoming.

Teaching methods

20 Lectures (twice a week)

Assessment methods

In-class exam

Teaching tools

Power point, video

Office hours

See the website of Lorenzo Zambernardi