Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2021/2022


The course is organised into lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. The course will cover the main theoretical traditions in international relations: realism, liberalism and constructivism. Throughout the course, the main theories in the discipline will be illustrated: balance of power and hegemonic stability for realism, institutionalism, democratic peace and capitalist peace for liberalism as well as constructivist and English school approaches. The lectures will look at the role of power, security, interests, institutions, and ideas in understanding international politics, through the lenses of the main theoretical traditions of IR. The seminars will then be conducted on various historical international systems applying to each the various theoretical interpretations. In particular, the systems which will be taken into consideration are: the Westphalian system (1494-1788), the Revolutionary system (1789-1889), the First World War system (1890-1918), the Second World War system (1919-1945), the Cold War system (1946-1991), the contemporary system (1992-current). For a full description of the course contents see the list of themes and readings in the section below.


Below is a detailed reading list for each of the sessions. Students are expected to have read the required materials before each class. Readings which are not marked as required are recommended, in the sense that demonstrating knowledge of them in the take home and/or in seminar discussions may mean a higher grade. In the seminars, there are some further readings whose purpose is to guide you if you are personally interested in the relevant period and want to deepen your knowledge independently.

The following two books are required:

  • Andreatta, F. (2017) Classic Works in International Relations, available on PandoraCampus
  • Kennedy, P. (1987): The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, also available as an e-book

The other materials, marked with an asterisk (*), will be made available, as well as the slides of the lectures, on the course page on Virtuale.

Throughout the lecture part, more than 10 hours of videos are listed, and please note that some of these are required.

Lecture 1: Introduction: International Relations between Theory and History

  1. *Snyder, J. (2004) «One World, Rival Theories», Foreign Policy, 145, 52-62 (required)
  2. *Walt, S. (1998) «One world, many theories», Foreign Policy, 110, pp. 29–46 (required)
  3. *Wight, M. (1987) «An Anatomy of International Thought», Review of International Studies, 13:3, 221-227
  4. *Fukuyama, Francis (1989) «The End of History?», The National Interest, 16, pp. 3–18
  5. *Huntington, S. (1993) «The Clash of Civilizations?», Foreign Affairs, 72:3, 22-49


  • VIDEO Smith, S. on IR Theory, 5:56 (required) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvKRAd9b0zU
  • VIDEO Drezner, D., Zombies, G20 and International Relations, 1:22:32


  • VIDEO Huntington, S. on the Clash of Civilizations, 28:17


  • VIDEO Fukuyama, F on The End of History, 1:12:24 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w240nD5whsE
  • VIDEO Krasner, S. on Sovereignty, 58:16


Lecture 2: The Three Traditions: Realism, Liberalism, Reflectivism

  1. Andreatta, F. (2017) Classic Works in International Relations, Il Mulino, Introduction (required)
  2. Mearsheimer, J. and Walt, S. «Leaving Theory Behind», http://duckofminerva.com/2013/09/leaving-theory-behind-why-simplistic-hypothesis-testing-is-bad-for-ir.html (required)
  3. Reiter, D. «In Defense of Simplistic Hypothesis», http://duckofminerva.com/2013/09/in-defense-of-simplistic-hypothesis-testing.html (required)
  4. Carreiro-Rolim, J. «A Review of Critical Race Theory’s Critiques of Mainstream IR», https://www.e-ir.info/2021/03/20/undoing-the-creation-myth-of-contemporary-international-relations-a-review-of-critical-race-theorys-critiques-of-mainstream-ir/
  5. Sjoberg, L. »The Politics of Fitting Feminist Theory in IR», https://www.duckofminerva.com/2013/10/the-politics-of-fitting-feminist-theory-in-ir.html

Lecture 3: The Balance of Power

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chapp. II, III, VIII (required)
  2. *Waltz, K. (1988), «The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory», Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18:4, 615-628 (required)
  3. *Levy, J. S., & Thompson, W. R. (2005) «Hegemonic Threats and Great-Power Balancing in Europe, 1495-1999», Security Studies, 14:1, 1-33
  4. *Schroeder, P. (1994) «Historical Reality vs. Neo-Realist Theory», International Security, 19:1, 108-148
  5. *Walt, S. (1985), «Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power», International Security, 9:4, 3-43


  • VIDEO Mearsheimer, J. Structural Realism, 9:22 (required)


  • VIDEO Waltz, Theory and International Politics, excerpt 12:21


  • VIDEO Richard Betts on Realism, 55:47


Other material:

  • Drezner, D., Game of Thrones and IR,


Lecture 4: Hegemonic Stability and Unipolarity

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chap. IX (required)
  2. *Gilpin, R. (1988) «The Theory of Hegemonic War», Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18:4, 591-613. (required)
  3. *Monteiro, N. P. (2011) «Unrest assured: Why Unipolarity Is Not Peaceful», International security, 36:3, 9-40 (required)
  4. *Jervis, R. (2009) «Unipolarity: A Structural Perspective», World Politics, 61:1, pp. 188-213
  5. *Olson, M. & Zeckhauser, R. (1966) «An Economic Theory of Alliances», The Review of Economics and Statistics, 48:3, 266-279


  • VIDEO Allison, G.T., Is War between China and the US Inevitable?, 18:34 (required) https://www.ted.com/talks/graham_allison_is_war_between_china_and_the_us_inevitable/reading-list?referrer=playlist-the_global_power_shift
  • VIDEO Monteiro, N. on Unipolarity, 16:50 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfaAb76KZ4E
  • VIDEO Nye, J., Global power shifts, 17:58


Lecture 5: International Institutions

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chap. IV, X (required)
  2. *Axelrod, R., Keohane, R. (1985) «Achieving Cooperation under Anarchy: Strategies and Institutions», World Politics, 38:1, 226-254. (required)
  3. *Grieco, J. (1988) «Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism», International Organization, 42:3, 485-507
  4. *G. John Ikenberry (2011) «The Future of the Liberal World Order: Internationalism After America», Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90, No. 3, pp. 56-62
  5. *Inis L. Claude, Jr (1969) «The Collectivist Theme in International Relations», International Journal, 24:4, pp. 639- 656


  • VIDEO Spaniel, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, 6:27 (required)


  • VIDEO Spaniel, The Shadow of the Future, 8:31 (required)


  • VIDEO Spaniel, The Relative Gains Problem, 8:40 (required)


  • VIDEO Keohane, Theory and International Institutions, 57:01


Other material:

  • The Economist, The New World Disorder, June 20th, 2020, https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/06/18/the-new-world-disorder
  • Moreland, W. (2020) To compete with China and Russia, America needs a new era of multilateralism, Vox, October 27th, https://www.vox.com/world/21536158/trump-withdrawal-who-china-russia-multilateralism-us-election-2020

Lecture 6: Domestic Regimes

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chap. XIV (required)
  2. *Doyle, M. (1983) «Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part 1 & 2», Philosophy and Public Affairs, 12:3-4, 205-235, 323-353. (required)
  3. *Gunitsky, S. (2014). From Shocks to Waves: Hegemonic Transitions and Democratization in the Twentieth Century, International Organization, 68:3, 561-597 (required)
  4. *Reiter, D., & Stam, A. C. (2003). Understanding Victory: Why Political Institutions Matter, International Security, 28:1, 168-179
  5. *Levy, J. (1988) «Domestic Politics and War», Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18:4, 653-673


  • VIDEO Doyle, M. on Democratic Peace, 10:06 (required)


  • VIDEO Moravscik, A. on Liberal Theory, 9:49 (required)


  • VIDEO Thirteen Days, movie by Roger Donaldson, 2000, 4:47 (extract here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt8SBlx9P9I )

Other material:

  • Freedom House: Nations in Transit 2020. https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2020/dropping-democratic-facade

Lecture 7: Economic Interdependence

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chap. I. (required)
  2. *Gartzke, E. (2007) «The Capitalist Peace», American Journal of Political Science, 51:1, 166-191. (required)
  3. *Kaysen, V. (1990) «Is War Obsolete?: A Review Essay», International Security, 14:4, 42-64
  4. *Mousseau, M. (2009) «The Social Market Roots of Democratic Peace», International Security, 33:4, 52-86
  5. *Chatagnier, J. T., & Castelli, E. (2016). «A Modern Peace? Schumpeter, the Decline of Conflict, and the Investment–War Trade-Off», Political Research Quarterly, 69;4, 852-864


  • VIDEO Pinker, S., Is the World Getting Better or Worse?, 18:23 (required) https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_is_the_world_getting_better_or_worse_a_look_at_the_numbers
  • VIDEO Rosling, H., 200 Years that Changed the World, 4:38 (required) https://www.gapminder.org/videos/200-years-that-changed-the-world/
  • VIDEO Rosling, H., The Magic Washing Machine, 8:59 https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_the_magic_washing_machine
  • VIDEO Rosling, H., Religions and Babies, 12:17 https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies

Other material:

  • Luce, E. (2015), The end of the Golden Arches doctrine, Financial Times, May 10th *

Lecture 8: Ideational Interpretations

  1. Andreatta, Classic Works, chapp. V, VII, XII, XIII (required)
  2. *Wendt, A. (1992) «Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics», International Organization, 46:2, 391-425 (required)
  3. *Finnemore, M., & Sikkink, K. (1998), «International norm dynamics and political change», International organization, 52:4, 887-917
  4. *Hedley Bull (1966), «International Theory: The Case for a Classical Approach», World Politics, 18:3, 361-377
  5. *Jervis, R. (1988) «War and Misperception», Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18:4, 675-700


  • VIDEO Gallemore, C. on Constructivism, 5:19 (required) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYU9UfkV_XI
  • VIDEO Walzer, M. on Just War, 4:58 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcBovmGZSPU
  • VIDEO Wendt, A. on Quantum Mind and the Social Sciences, 16:49 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpkhPgpY28M
  • VIDEO Finnemore, M. on Constructivism, 1:11:26 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdjr2VwwinA

Other material:

  • Storey, H. (2021), History haunts Japan–South Korea ties, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/history-haunts-japan-south-korea-ties


Seminar 1: The Westphalian System

  • Kennedy, P. (1987): The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Chapp. 1-3, pp. 1-142 (required)

Further readings:

  • Anderson, M.S. (1998): The Origins of the Modern European State System, 1494-1618 [https://www.routledge.com/The-Origins-of-the-Modern-European-State-System-1494-1618/Anderson/p/book/9780582229440] .
  • Cipolla, C.M. (1965) Guns, Sails and Empires: Technological Innovation and the Early Phases of European Expansion 1400–1700.
  • Mckay, D. & H.M. Scott (1983): The Rise of the Great Powers 1648 - 1815 [https://www.routledge.com/The-Rise-of-the-Great-Powers-1648---1815/Mckay-Scott-Mckay/p/book/9780582485549] .

Seminar 2: The Age of Revolutions

  • Kennedy Chap. 4, pp. 143-193 (required)

Further readings:

  • Bridge F.R., and Roger Bullen (2004): The Great Powers and the European States System, 1814—1914. 2nd Ed.
  • Schroeder, P. W. (1994) The Transformation of European Politics, 1763 – 1848.
  • Anderson, M.S. (2003) The Ascendancy of Europe, 1815—1914. 3rd Ed.
  • Evans, P. (2016) The Pursuit of Power, Europe 1815-1914
  • Kissinger, H. (1994): Diplomacy, pp. 1-167.

Seminar 3: The First World War

  • Kennedy Chap. 5, pp. 194-274 (required)

Further readings:

  • Taylor, A.J.P. (1954): The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848 – 1918.
  • Joll, J., & G. Martel (2007): The Origins of the First World War. 3rd Edition.
  • Kissinger, H. (1994): Diplomacy, pp. 168-265
  • Cooper, R. N. (2014). Economic interdependence and war, in Rosecrance, R. N., & Miller, S. E. (Eds.). (2014). The next great war?: the roots of World War I and the risk of US-China conflict. MIT Press


  • Van Evera, S. (1984). The cult of the offensive and the origins of the First World War. International security, 9(1), 58-107
  • Snyder, J. (1984). Civil-Military Relations and the Cult of the Offensive, 1914 and 1984. International Security, 9(1), 108-146

Seminar 4: The Second World War

  • Kennedy Chap. 6, pp. 275-346 (required)

Further readings:

  • Overy, R. & A. Wheatcroft (1999): The Road to War. Revised Edition.
  • Bell, P.M.H. (2007) The Origins of the Second World War in Europe. 3rd Edition.
  • Steiner, Z. (2013): The Triumph of the Dark; European International History 1933-9
  • Weinberg, G. (2005): A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, 2nd ed.,
  • Kissinger, H. (1994): Diplomacy, pp. 266-422

Seminar 5: The Cold War

  • Kennedy, Chap. 7, pp. 347-412 (required)

Further readings:

  • Powaski, R. (1998) The Cold War: The USand the Soviet Union, 1917-1991.
  • Gaddis, J.L. (2005) Strategies of Containment, updated edition.
  • Westad, O.A. (2017) The Cold War: A World History
  • Kissinger, H. (1994): Diplomacy, pp. 423-803

Seminar 6: The Contemporary International System

  • Friedberg, A. (2005), «The Future of US-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?» International Security, 30:2, pp. 7-45. (required)
  • Ikenberry, J. (2008) «The Rise of China and the Future of the West», Foreign Affairs, 87:1, pp. 23-37. (required)
  • Shifrinson, J. (2020) «Partnership or Predation? How Rising States Contend with Declining Great Powers», International Security, 45:1, pp. 90–126. (required)
  • Johnston, A. (2019), «China in a World of Orders. Rethinking Compliance and Challenge in Beijing’s International Relations», International Security, 44:2, pp. 9–60. (required)
  • Kissinger, H. (2012) «The Future of U.S.-Chinese Relations: Conflict Is a Choice, Not a Necessity», Foreign Affairs , 91:2, 44-55
  • Mearsheimer, J. J. (2010) «The gathering storm: China’s challenge to US power in Asia», The Chinese journal of international politics, 3:4), 381-396
  • Glaser, C. L. (2015) «A US-China grand bargain? The hard choice between military competition and accommodation»,, International Security, 39:4, 49-90
  • Kang, D. C., & Ma, X. (2018) «Power transitions: Thucydides didn’t live in East Asia», The Washington Quarterly, 41:1, 137-154
  • Bull H. (1975), «Models of Future World Order», India Quarterly, 31:1, pp. 62-73
  • Jervis, R. (2002) «Theories of War in an Era of Leading-Power Peace», American Political Science Review, 96:1, 1-14

Other material:

  • Case Studies in Power Transitions: The Thucydides Trap,


  • Anonymous: The Longer Telegram: Toward A New American China Strategy, The Atlantic Council, 2021

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/content-series/atlantic-council-strategy-paper- series/the-longer-telegram/

Metodi didattici

The course is organised into lectures and seminars, according to the logic of the inverted classroom. Lectures (16 hours) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. Students attend 8 lectures on theoretical interpretations. In the seminar section, students are divided into two groups, each of which must attend 6 seminars. The activation of online classes will depend on the evolution of the pandemic situation.

All students are invited to bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to class to participate to in-class tests and surveys.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

- Reading assignments (30% of the grade)

All the required readings for the lectures and seminars are assessed in a short 5-question multiple-choice quiz at the beginning of class #3, #5 and #7. Students are required to bring a device to class in order to take the test (20% of the overall grade)..

Furthermore, in the seminar part (classes 9-14), each student will write a short one-page paper responding to one the questions listed after the readings in the program above (10% of the overall grade).

- In class presentation (20% of the grade)

Each student will apply one of the theoretical interpretations to one of the historical periods (seminar classes 9-14) in a concise, 4-slides, powerpoint (or equivalent) presentation, to be sent to the instructor three days before the seminar. The assessment will not be restricted to factual knowledge but will also consider the ability to link theoretical approaches and empirical realities.

- Seminar activity (10% of the grade)

Attendance and participation in the seminar discussion.

- Take home final (40% of the grade)

A take-home exam handed the last day of class and to be submitted through EOL by a deadline that will be communicated by the end of the course. The take-home exam will consist of 2 questions (1.000 words each) applying one of the theoretical approaches to one of the historical periods. References to the reading materials are expected. The questions will be assessed according to: historical accuracy, coherence and relevance of the theoretical discussion, clarity and consistency of the argument, original and critical thinking.

Non-attending students will be assessed through a take home exam that will consist of 4 questions (1.000 words each) that test the knowledge of different theoretical interpretations and the ability to apply such interpretations to historical realities. The material for non-attending students is composed of the required readings in the list above.

Students are bound the by UNIBO’s ethics code. Plagiarism (written exams will be checked with the software Compilatio) invalidates the exam while unethical behaviour could be denounced to university authorities.

Grading policy

The final overall grade will be in the range 18-30:

- 30 cum laude (outstanding, sure grasp of all the material and many interesting insights)

- 28-30 (excellent, sure grasp of all the material and some interesting insights)

- 26-27 (very good, competent grasp of all the material)

- 24-25 (good, competent grasp of some the material)

- 21-23 (satisfactory, partial grasp of the material)

- 18-20 (pass, barely sufficient grasp of the material)

- 17 or below (fail, insufficient grasp of the material)

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Virtuale, MS Teams, EOL.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Francesco Niccolò Moro

Consulta il sito web di