ATS4328 - Grand theories of politics and international relations - 2017

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Politics and International Relations


Dr Michael Ure

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit investigates the concept of 'the political' in modern and contemporary political theory. In the late twentieth century key Western European and American thinkers and government advisors claimed that humanity had arrived at the end of history. The combination of the 'liberal' state and capitalism, they claimed, embodies the ultimate form of human organisation. Politics, they argued, is therefore a thing of the past. Many contemporary political theorists challenge this 'post-political' consensus. In doing so they draw on grand theories of politics to develop a range of concepts of 'the political'. This unit aims to examine these different discourses and concepts of 'the political' and to assess their significance for contemporary political questions regarding justice, citizenship and recognition in a globalised, post-Westphalian world. It focuses on the political theories of Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt, Jurgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Chantal Mouffe, Nancy Fraser and Martha Nussbaum.


Upon completion of the unit students will be able to:

  1. Understand the main ideas and arguments of selected theorists studied.
  2. Analyse and discuss accounts of the history of political and international relations theories considered as a tradition of discourse.
  3. Relate and connect arguments regarding power, justice, order and disorder in theories of politics and international relations to moral concerns raised in state and global political forums.
  4. Assess arguments that grand theories of politics are both empirical and normative, aimed at both knowledge and action.


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 288 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


COS4399, EUR4399