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Selected Topics in International Relations- Ismail Erkam Sula

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I use my e-mail actively and recommend you do so since certain important class announcements will be made through email. Any questions sent to me by email will receive a response within three business days, or during the following class. E-mails must: contain your name, be written in proper English, and have the course code and name in the subject line. (Example: Erkam Sula – INRE616: About This Week’s Readings)


This course is designed to introduce advanced debates in seminar style on topics of key importance to International Relations scholarship. The course focuses on fundamental issues that revolve around four major components: IR Theory and Philosophy, Research Methods, Key Concepts in IR scholarship, and the history of the international relations discipline. The course conducts weekly debates on selected topics to prepare graduate students for their PhD comprehensive/qualification exams. The course particularly aims to:

  • Familiarize students with the major debates in international relations theory
  • Help students understand various types of academic inquiry in IR
  • Teach students the relationship between science and methods in the IR Discipline
  • Illustrate various ways of research design in IR
  • Help students select research topics for their early career as an academic 
  • Urge students to understand IR discipline in general and prepare themselves for their PhD comprehensive/qualification exams.


  • The course assumes prior knowledge of IR theories, concepts and familiarity with IR scholarship.
  • According to the regulations of the University it is compulsory to attend at least 70 percent of the classes. However, in any graduate course you are expected to attend ALL CLASSES. 
  • Please come to class well-prepared by reading the chapters and articles of the week. Otherwise, you will not be able to understand the debates and receive certain grade penalties.
  • You will not receive the instructor’s presentation slides. Voice recording and taking pictures without the instructor’s consent is not allowed and will be regarded as a serious violation of class rules. Make sure you take proper lecture notes.
  • Paper and other assignment deadlines are announced in this syllabus. Any change (unlikely) in the deadlines will be announced through email or in-class. There will be no extensions to the deadlines.
  • DO NOT PLAGIARIZE: If you plagiarize from your previously submitted works, or from the work of others in your written assignments, you will receive a failing grade of 0 for the assignment. 


Students are expected to accumulate grade points by reading course materials, attending classes, participating in class seminar discussions and completing certain assignments.

1. Participation & Attendance: Total Grade Points: 15%

Each week, student attendance and participation will be graded. Students are expected to attend ALL CLASSES and answer/pose questions about weekly readings and discuss with peers in seminar sessions. It is compulsory to attend at least 70 percent (10 weeks) of the classes. 

2. Assignments: Total Grade Points: 45%

Students need to complete certain assignments in order to accumulate grade points. Assignment details will be sent by email and discussed in-class or office hours. The assignments are as follows:

  • Weekly Presentations (Graded weekly – Total Grade 25%)

Students will select one article/chapter each week and make a flash talk and ask question to the class on the selected reading.

  • Two Response assignments (Graded Weekly – 20%)

There are certain research questions in the weekly course plan below. Students are expected to submit research assignments to Turnitin. 10 pages max. with references.

3. Final Paper: Take-home Comprehensive Exam: 40 %

The assignments above are designed to help students accumulate knowledge and prepare themselves for a hypothetical comprehensive exam until the end of the course. In the last week students will be given a list of comprehensive exam questions (including some previously asked by the professors at AYBU Department of International Relations). Each student is expected to select two research questions and answer them (with academic references from course readings and beyond) in the limited time given by the professor. This will serve as a simulation of a real comprehensive exam. In order to pass this course students are expected to write their 15 (minimum) – 20 (maximum) pages academic response essays (with references) and submit to Turnitin.


IR Scholarship: The State of the art in the World and in Turkey

Week 1: Philosophy of Social Sciences and International Relations Scholarship

Week 2: IR Scholarship around the World and the state of the IR Discipline in Turkey.

Week 3: The sociology of the IR discipline

History of International Relations Discipline

Week 4: The evolution of the discipline 1: Major debates in IR Theory

Week 5: The evolution of the discipline 2: ‘Westphalia Treaty’, ‘great debates’ or a myth?

Week 6: International Political Economy: A short history on the Liberal World Order

IR Methods and Methodology

Week 7: Explaining and Understanding International Relations

Week 8: Quantitative vs. Qualitative Methods in International Relations

Week 9: Eclectic Methods and Triangulation

IR Concepts and Theoretical debates

Week 10: Power, Balance of Power, Soft/smart Power

Week 11: Hegemony, Hegemonic stability, and Cooperation

Week 12: Security, Security Dilemma, Securitization

Week 13: Democracy, Democratic Consolidation, Democratization

Week 14: Samples and discussion on Comprehensive Exam questions


This course will follow a couple of books, certain chapters from others and research articles. Please ask for the course reader to the Instructor. The required readings are listed in the weekly course plan below. Please also see the course readings – bibliography section at the end of the syllabus.

Week 1 – Philosophy Of Social Sciences & IR Scholarship

Introduction to INRE 503
-Syllabus, course rules, and assignment and a short lecture on academic honesty & plagiarism.
Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Lebow 2019)
-(Wight 2002) 
Week 2 – IR Scholarship around the World and the state of the IR Discipline in Turkey

Must readings and seminar discussions:  
-(Aydinli and Biltekin 2017)
-(Köstem 2015) 
Week 3 – The Sociology of the International Relations Discipline

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Bilgin 2009) 
-(Bigo and Walker 2007)
-(Waever 1998) 
Week 4 – The evolution of the discipline 1: Major debates in IR Theory

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Smith 1996; 2013) 
-(Kaplan 1961)
-(Lake 2013) 
-(Wilson 1998)
Week 5 – The evolution of the discipline2:  Other Selected Debates

Must readings and seminar discussions:  
-(Osiander 2016)
-(Patton 2019)
-(Rosenberg 2016; 2017)
-(Booth and Kurki 2017)
-(Booth 2019)

Research Questions: What is ‘causality’?  How do you define it in the study of International Relations? How does anarchy work as a “permissive cause” in International Relations? How many types of causality can you think of? How are they related to the positivist vs post-positivist debate in IR? Please give your answer with examples from certain IR theories.
Week 6 – International Political Economy: the Liberal World Order, R.I.P

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Gilpin 2001)
-(Ikenberry 2015)
-(Deudney and Ikenberry 1999)
-(Haas 2018)
-(Woods 2014)
Week 7 – Explaining and Understanding International Relations

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Hollis and Smith 1991, 1–91)
Week 8 – Quantitative vs. Qualitative Methods in International Relations

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Wheelan 2013, 1–34) 
-(Martin and Bridgmon 2012, 1–38)
-(Klotz and Prakash 2008, 1–38, 211–20)
-(Marvasti 2004, 1–13)
Week 9 – Eclectic Methods and Triangulation

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Rosenau 1984)
-(Katzenstein and Sil 2009)
-(Sil and Katzenstein 2010) 
Week 10 – Power, Balance of Power, Soft/smart Power

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Barnett and Duvall 2005)
-(Pape 2005)
-(Baldwin 2013)
-(Schweller 2016) 

Research Questions: This question was asked by one of my professors to me when I was a graduate student: “Should non-state actors (e.g. terrorist networks) be incorporated into balance of power theory? If not, why not, if so, how?”
Week 11 – Hegemony, Hegemonic stability, and Cooperation

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Gavris 2019)
-(Webb and Krasner 1989) 
-(Keohane 1984, 31–46)
-(Dunne 2014)
-(Cox 1981) 
Week 12 – Security, Security Dilemma, Securitization

 Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Baylis 2008) 
-(Bilgin 2003)
-(Bilgin 2011)
-(Bilgin 2012)
-(Booth and Wheeler 2007) 
-(Tang 2009) 
Week 13 –  Democracy, Democratic Consolidation, Democratization

Must readings and seminar discussions: 
-(Przeworski 1991)
-(Przeworski 2016)
-(Diamond 1994)
-(Albrecht and Schlumberger 2004) 
Week 14 – Samples and discussion on Comprehensive Exam questions

* No Readings this week 
* In-class discussion about what we have learned this far. Some final discussions about the comprehensive exam. 
Short Lecture: On the use and importance of research methods in academic research & some final advice on academic honesty and plagiarism. 
Week 15 – FINAL EXAM
Exact date will be announced by the university. 


Albrecht, Holger, and Oliver Schlumberger. 2004. “‘Waiting for Godot’: Regime Change without Democratization in the Middle East.” International Political Science Review 25 (4): 371-392+460. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192512104045085.

Aydinli, Ersel, and Gonca Biltekin. 2017. “Time to Quantify Turkey’s Foreign Affairs: Setting Quality Standards for a Maturing International Relations Discipline.” International Studies Perspectives 18 (3): 267–87. https://doi.org/10.1093/isp/ekv009.

Baldwin, David A. 2013. “Power and International Relations.” In Handbook of International Relations. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446247587.n11.

Barnett, Michael, and Raymond Duvall. 2005. Power in International PoliticsInternational Organization. Vol. 59. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818305050010.

Baylis, John. 2008. “The Concept of Security in International Relations.” In Globalization and Environmental Challenges. Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace, Vol 3., 495–502. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-75977-5_37.

Bigo, Didier, and R. B.J. Walker. 2007. “Political Sociology and the Problem of the International.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 35 (3): 725–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/03058298070350030401.

Bilgin, Pinar. 2003. “Individual and Societal Dimensions of Security.” International Studies Review 5 (2): 203–22. https://doi.org/10.1111/1521-9488.502002.

———. 2009. “The International Political ‘Sociology of a Not so International Discipline.’” International Political Sociology 3 (3): 338–42. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-5687.2009.00079_5.x.

———. 2011. “The Politics of Studying Securitization? The Copenhagen School in Turkey.” Security Dialogue 42 (4–5): 399–412. https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010611418711.

———. 2012. “The Continuing Appeal of Critical Security Studies.” Critical Theory in International Relations and Security Studies: Interviews and Reflections, 159–70. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203145494.

Booth, Ken. 2019. “International Relations: The Story so Far.” International Relations 33 (2): 358–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047117819851261.

Booth, Ken, and Milja Kurki. 2017. “Rethinking International Relations-Again.” International Relations 31 (1): 68–70. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047117817690568.

Booth, Ken, and Nicholas J Wheeler. 2007. “Rethinking the Security Dilemma.” In The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics. Palgrave Macmillan.

Cox, Robert W. 1981. “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory.” Perspectives on World Politics: Third Edition 10 (2): 394–403. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429044878-12.

Deudney, Daniel, and G. John Ikenberry. 1999. “The Nature and Sources of Liberal International Order.” Review of International Studies 25 (2): 179–96. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210599001795.

Diamond, Larry Jay. 1994. “Toward Democratic Consolidation.” Journal of Democracy 5 (3): 4–17. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.1994.0041.

Dunne, Tim. 2014. “Chapter 7: Liberalism.” In The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 7th Edition, 114–40.

Gavris, Maria. 2019. “Revisiting the Fallacies in Hegemonic Stability Theory in Light of the 2007–2008 Crisis: The Theory’s Hollow Conceptualization of Hegemony.” Review of International Political Economy 0 (0): 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/09692290.2019.1701061.

Gilpin, Robert. 2001. Global Political Economy : Understanding the International Economic Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Haas, Richard N. 2018. “Liberal World Order, R.I.P.” Project Syndicate March 21.

Hollis, M, and S Smith. 1991. Explaining and Understanding International Relations. Clarendon Paperbacks. Oxford: Clarendon Press. https://books.google.com.tr/books?id=t6CSngEACAAJ.

Ikenberry, G. John. 2015. “The Future of the Liberal World Order: Internationalism After America.” Foreign Affairs 90 (3): 56–68.

Kaplan, Morton A. 1961. “Is International Relations a Discipline?” The Journal of Politics 23 (3): 462–76.

Katzenstein, Peter, and Rudra Sil. 2009. “Eclectic Theorizing in the Study and Practice of International Relations.” In The Oxford Handbook of International Relations. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199219322.003.0006.

Keohane, Robert O. 1984. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political EconomyAfter Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy.

Klotz, Audie, and Deepa Prakash, eds. 2008. Qualitative Methods in International Relations: A Pluralist Guide. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230584129.

Köstem, Seçkin. 2015. “International Relations Theories and Turkish International Relations: Observations Based on a Book.” All Azimuth 4 (1): 59–66. https://doi.org/10.20991/allazimuth.167333.

Lake, David A. 2013. “Theory Is Dead, Long Live Theory: The End of the Great Debates and the Rise of Eclecticism in International Relations.” European Journal of International Relations 19 (3): 567–87. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066113494330.

Lebow, Richard Ned. 2019. “Review : Philosophy and International Relations Reviewed Work ( s ): Scientific Realism and International Relations by Jonathan Joseph and Colin Wight ; The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations : Philosophy of Science and Its Implications for The.” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 87 (5): 1219–28.

Martin, William E., and D. Krista Bridgmon. 2012. Quantitative and Statistical Research Methods : From Hypothesis to Results. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Marvasti, Amir. 2004. Qualitative Research in SociologyQualitative Research in Sociology. London: SAGE Publications, Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849209700.

Osiander, Andreas. 2016. “Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth.” International Organization55 (2): 251–87.

Pape, Robert A. 2005. “Soft Balancing against the United States.” International Security. https://doi.org/10.1162/0162288054894607.

Patton, Steven. 2019. “The Peace of Westphalia and It Affects on International Relations , Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.” The Histories 10 (1): 91–99.

Przeworski, Adam. 1991. “1. Democracy.” In Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

———. 2016. “Democracy: A Never-Ending Quest.” Annual Review of Political Science 19 (1): 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-021113-122919.

Rosenau, James N. 1984. “A Pre-Theory Revisited: World Politics in an Era of Cascading Interdependence.” International Studies Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.2307/2600632.

Rosenberg, Justin. 2016. “International Relations in the Prison of Political Science.” International Relations 30 (2): 127–53. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047117816644662.

———. 2017. “The Elusive International.” International Relations 31 (1): 90–103. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047117817691353.

Schweller, Randall L. 2016. “The Balance of Power in World Politics.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, 177–91. 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, London EC1Y 1SP United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.119.

Sil, Rudra, and Peter J. Katzenstein. 2010. “Analytic Eclecticism in the Study of World Politics: Reconfiguring Problems and Mechanisms across Research Traditions.” Perspectives on Politics. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592710001179.

Smith, Steve. 1996. “I. Positivism and Beyond.” In International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, 11–46. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

———. 2013. “Introduction: Diversity and Disciplinarity in International Relations Theory.” In International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity’, 3rd Edition, 1–35. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/hepl/9780198707561.003.0001.

Tang, Shiping. 2009. “The Security Dilemma: A Conceptual Analysis.” Security Studies 18 (3): 587–623. https://doi.org/10.1080/09636410903133050.

Waever, Ole. 1998. “The Sociology of a Not So International Discipline : American and European Developments in International Relations.” International Organization 52 (4): 687–727. http://journals.cambridge.org/production/action/cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=173288.

Webb, Michael C., and Stephen D. Krasner. 1989. “Hegemonic Stability Theory: An Empirical Assessment.” Review of International Studies 15 (2): 183–98. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0260210500112999.

Wheelan, Charles. 2013. Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. New York: W. W. Norton. https://books.google.com.tr/books?id=BgFJfC_CrTAC.

Wight, Colin. 2002. “Philosophy of Social Science and International Relations.” In Handbook of International Relations, edited by Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse, and Beth A. Simmons, 23–51. 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, London EC1Y 1SP United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781848608290.n2.

Wilson, Peter. 1998. “The Myth of the ‘First Great Debate.’” Review of International Studies 24: 1–15. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203120118.

Woods, Ngaire. 2014. “International Political Economy in an Age of Globalization.” In The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, 7th Edition, 244–57. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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