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Introduction to World Politics

Course Code: POLI 1103
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Political Science
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Summer
course overview

Why war? What is the role of the United Nations in resolving conflict? How does politics affect the nature of global economic relations? These and other central questions about the nature of global political relations are examined in this course. Students will review fundamental concepts and theoretical approaches to the study of world politics, examine the structure of the contemporary international system, and explore current issues in international security and economic relations. This course will help students recognize the importance of world politics and to develop the tools to analyze and understand current events.

Course Content

Part One: An Introduction to World Politics and the Contemporary International System

1. The study of international politics: international system, levels of analysis, states and non-state actors, sovereignty, anarchy, the security dilemma, and power.

2. Theoretical perspectives: realism, liberalism, constructivism, and critical perspectives.

3. Characteristics of the contemporary international system: sovereignty, nationalism, weak states/strong states, non-state actors, polarity, cleavages, regimes, alliances, globalization, fragmentation, integration, cooperation, and competition.

4. Foreign policy: objectives, models of decision making, bureaucratic politics, group dynamics, other individual level factors, nationalism, ideals, and values.

5. Diplomacy: purpose, functions, negotiations, and crisis management.

6. International and Regional Organizations: types and goals.

7. International Law and Regimes: development, roles, and effectiveness.

Part Two: Security Issues

1. Security I—force as a political instrument, the evolution of warfare, and types of military activity: intervention, arms transfers, demonstrations of force, low-intensity conflict, subversion, the political issues of intervention, terrorism, and WMD.

2. Security II—collective security, peacekeeping, peacemaking, humanitarian intervention, and arms control and disarmament.

Part Three: International Economic Relations

1. International Political Economy concepts: balance of trade, balance of payments, current account, comparative advantage, exchange rate, and GNP.

2. The structure of the global economy: the GATT, IMF, WTO, World Bank, and development of the G20.

3. International Trade Issues: protectionism, tariffs, and non-tariff barriers.

4. International Monetary Issues: exchange rates and currency fluctuations.

5. Economic Globalization: interdependence and dependence, development, and foreign aid.

Part Four: Contemporary Issues

1. Overview of contemporary issues: poverty, debt, environment, and human rights.

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including the use of formal lectures, structured group work by students, and in class discussion of assigned material. Additional readings may be assigned for each unit of the course and placed on reserve in the library. Where appropriate, audio-visual materials will be used.

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be based on course objectives and in accordance with the policies of Douglas College and the Department of Political Science. A minimum of 40% of the student’s course grade will be assigned to examinations, a minimum of 30% will be assigned to the various components of a formal research essay, and a maximum of 30% will be based upon components such as quizzes, short essays, participation, and

class presentations.  The instructor will provide specific evaluation criteria in course outlines.

One example of an evaluation system:

Midterm Exam                    20%

Seminar Presentation          20%

Research Essay                   30%

Participation                        10%

Final Exam                          20%  


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will be able to:

1. describe the main approaches to the study of international politics, and the characteristics of the contemporary international system;

2. explain the concept of sovereignty, levels of analysis, foreign policy decision making, the role of international organizations, regimes, and international law;

3. describe contemporary security and economic relations;

4. apply basic concepts and knowledge of security and economic relations to the analysis of contemporary international issues.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.