World Politics

Course Description

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 objective 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 aim of the course is to present and explain relevant approaches and issues of international politics. We are going to regard what the main presumptions of the traditional and the new theories are, and how to apply them to certain cases including international conflicts and global issues.


Below, I list the main topics to be covered during the semester. 

Introducing International Politics as Academic Subject

World Order

  • Toward to Westphalian World Order
  • Realism at the Forefront of World Politics: Independant State System, Monroe Doctrine
  • "Utopian Liberalism" at the Forefront of World Politics: Wilson's Fourteen  Points
  • How to keep up Stability in World Politics?
  • The classic and the new interpretations of World Stability: Hegemonic Stability Theory, the "New Wave" Schools, and Postmodern

Topic 1: Basic Concepts

  • Different Schools, Different Focus
  • Ideas about Human Nature and the Interpretation of World Politics
  • On International System
  • On Human Rights

The Mainstream: Liberals and Realists

  • The tradition and strands of Liberalism
  • The tradition and strands of Realism
  • Neo-Neo Debate: about the mainstream of International Politics

Topic 2: International Security

Beyond the ”Mainstream”: Critical Views

  • The English School
  • Neo-Marxism
  • Constructivism
  • Feminism
  • The Green Perspective

Topic 3: Global Issues

  • What about the Global Future in World Politics?

Educational Resources

Lecture Notes  József Zoltán Málik: Essentials of World Politics. Budapest: ELTE, 2015. (in pdf version)

Lecture Notes  József Zoltán Málik: Cases in World Politics. Budapest: ELTE, 2015. (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):


  • During the semester student has to write and send me two essays, the first is considered as a mid-term examination, the second as a final examination. The weights of both papers are equally important in getting the fianl grade.
    1. Midterm examination essay (Due Time: 09 April, 2017): 
"The “Russian World”: Russia’s Geopolitical Imagination

Here you can watch and read Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the 70th UN General Assembly session in New York City, on 28th September 2015. Analyze the speech. Collect all the main arguments and suggestions in the text. Give an assessment about the goal of Russian foreign policy based upon these arguments and suggestions. (These articles article1, article2, and article3 are worthy of attention to get some additional ideas to compose your essay, but of course you may use others if you want).

    1. Final examination essay (Due Time: 21 May, 2017): Choose one question for discussion, and compose an essay to answer it.
    1. Rules in international politics typically lack any form of enforcement but are commonly obeyed by even the most powerful states. Explain this apparent contradiction between states' tendency to follow rules and the lack of coercive enforcement agent.
    2. “The US always enfolded her interests into principles, whilst Europeans expressed them in a more blushless way.” Explain this claim by analysing the Monroe Doctrine in contrasting to later historical developments.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 3,000 and 5,000 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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