World Politics

Course Description

Academic degree: Bachelor's /Undergraduate/ degree

Reading newspapers and watching or listening to the national news makes us aware of international events far away from our everyday lives. However, these events may seem to be distant and unrelated to our own lives can become personally salient to all of us as a consequence of their economic, social, security or military effects. Steep fluctuations in the value of the Japanese yen influence the price of your new computer or car; conflicts in the Middle East affect the price of oil; we meet immigrants in our country; from time to time shocking terrorist attack occurs in the big cities of the world, and as a result of this security measures make things warm for us. The aim of this course is to provide an up-to-date, integrated and forward-looking introduction to international politics. How should we approach the study of world affairs? How the world politics is best understood? World affairs have traditionally been understood on the basis of an international paradigm. In this view, which is called International Relations, states are taken to be the essential building blocks of world politics. However, since the 1980s, an alternative globalization paradigm has become fashionable. This reflects the belief that world affairs have been transformed in recent decades by the growth of global interconnections and interdependences. Non-state actors, such as international organizations, multinational corporations, environmental organizations, and terrorist groups, are all part of what could more correctly be termed as World or Global Politics. The objective of the course is to present and explain fundamental concepts, relevant approaches and issues of international politics. During the course several case studies are also presented to demonstrate how to interpret world political events in practice. However, the course is not an interpretation of or a talk about news, which are permanently changed, instead a highlighting of the main ideas and “evergreen” issues. These are the "hardcore" of world politics by which we are capable of understanding the world that we live in. 

Course Outline                                                                                                                                                       

 Segment 1: World Politics as Academic Subject

1.      International Politics as a Discipline of Political Science

2.      The ”Great Debates” and the Levels of Analysis in International Politics

3.      Westphalian World Order: History and Facts

4.      World Politics: Altogether of Anarchism, Order, and Chaos?

5.      Ideas about Human Nature and the Interpretations of World Politics

6.      Different IR Schools and Their Views about Anarchic International Environment


 Segment 2: Different Schools, Different Focus - more details

7.      The Mainstream: Traditions and Strands of Liberals and Realists

8.      International Security: Topics and Discussions

9.      “Beyond the Mainstream”: Traditions and Strands of the Critical Views

Educational Resources

József Zoltán Málik: Essentials of World Politics. Budapest: ELTE, 2021. (in pdf version)

Methodological Issues
       + Video recordings (see here):
  • Occam's Razor as ambigous precept: Scenes from the Hollywood movie "Contact" directed by Robert Zemeckis
  • Regime transitions can always be described as dramatic changes. (Chile, 1973; Portugal, 1974; Soviet Union, 1991)
  • Hannah Arendt as post-positivist
The Liberal Stance  
The Realist Stance 
Critical Views 
- Hugo Grotius: The Law of War and Peace (1625)
- Tim Dunne: Inventing International Society, Palgrave, 1998.
- Robert W. Cox: Gramsci, Hegemony, and International Relations. Cambridge University Press, 1996
- Immanuel Wallreinstein: World-System Analysis, Duke University Press, 1994.
+ Video recording (see here):
  • Slavoj Zizek: As a Neo-Marxist views the world. Scenes from the movie "Pervert's Guide to Ideology" directed by Sophie Fiennes
+ Video recording (see here):
- Garett Hardin: The Tradegy of Commons. Science, Vol. 162: (12), 1968, pp. 1243-1267.
- Thomas Homer-Dixon: On the Threshold: Enviromental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict. International Security, Vol. 16: (2), 1991, pp. 76-116.
- John Browne: Beyond Kyoto. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 83: (4), 2004, pp. 20-32.

+ Video recording (see here):
Trial Record in Case of United States vs. Susan B. Anthony, Canandaigua, New York, 1873.
Severn Suzuki: Speech at U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro,1992.

Global Issues
+ Video recording (see here):


First Assessment (Due time is 03 of November 2023): Discuss the following questions (cc. in 500 words for the questions altogether):
  1. There are conflicts about the essence of international relations within the realist school: classical (Morgenthau) vs. neorealist (Waltz) vs. neoclassical (Kissinger). How can we explain that they still represent the same realistic orientation from a methodological point of view and not, e.g., liberal?
  2. Explain the Westphalian World Order creates order and anarchy in the system of international relations. 
  3. Locke and Kant, as emblematic figures of the liberal school of IR, opposed the creation of a world order under the authority of a world government. What were their arguments?
Second Assessment (Due time is 15 of December, 2023): Choose one question for discussion, and compose an essay to answer it (You may use any bibliography but reference is always needed. Do not plagiarize!).
    1. History has seen a series of clashes between declining hegemon’s and new rising powers. Athens-Sparta, Britain-Germany, and US-USSR all (arguably) fit into this paradigm. Today, the biggest single state-actor threat to US hegemony appears to be China. Is conflict between the US and China inevitable? What forces push the US and China towards potential conflict? What factors might make conflict between these two countries less likely? 
    2. Scientists predict that the failure of the international community to act collectively to reduce carbon emissions will have dramatic environmental, social, and economic costs. Why is it then that the international community has been unable to act cooperatively on this issue? Use the framework of the three Is – Interests, Interactions, and Institutions, to explore the obstacles to cooperation on this issue, and give a game-theoretic model.
    3. Here you can read the US National Security Strategy declared by the Trump's administration. Considering the four pillars of the Strategy, how do you characterise the security policy of the US in terms of deterrence, security dilemma, balancing, and the "clash of civilizations" thesis.
    4. Here are some articles (article1, article2; and this video are worthy of attention to get some additional ideas to compose your essay, but of course you may use others if you want) containg useful information about Russia's geopolitical challenges. Based on these, evaluate and present the goal of Russian foreign policy.
    5. In this provocative essay, Edward Luttwak argues that the best international response to civil conflicts is to “give war a chance”. What does he mean by that? Position Luttwak's view in IP. Provide three reasons that back his argument. Do you agree?        
  • My Assessment Policy: 
    • You may as well discuss and think over the content of essay together at home, but you have to write your own paper individually and send it to me via e-mail ( Please, write "wp_your name" in the subject of the email, and convert your attached paper into . (Don't send your paper in other format such as doc, odt, rtf).
    • Late submitted paper and team works are not accepted
    • Though page number is far less important than the content and quality, the size of the paper should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words.
    • The composition should demonstrate student's ability of the mastery in the concepts of main approaches to world politics.
    • To standardize the formatting of your paper, do comply with the requirement of MLA standard. To help your work at home, you can download a template here in doc for MicrosoftOffice Word and  here in odt for LibreOffice Writer.

This course is a part of the ERASMUS+ Program at Faculty of Law,
Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest

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