Social Sciences Courses

Take Social Science courses overseas to enhance your career prospects! Choose from hundreds of courses in a wide range of subjects, including Anthropology, Cultural and International Studies, Gender Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work and more!
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Available Courses by Program
COURSE: International Studies 320
CREDITS: 3 US credits

The Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the most ancient civilizations in the world. This multi-country program will allow students to immerse in the fascinating history and culture of three of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in Europe. We’ll travel from the ancient Imperial Rome to the Florence of the Renaissance with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and finish with the modern and extravagant architecture of Gaudi in the vibrant city of Barcelona.

COURSE: SPAN 350
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: January / July: Session 1 and 2

Why are Spaniards currently exhuming mass graves of the Civil War? How can the country tolerate an unemployment rate of 20 percent? Why has Catalan and Basque nationalism dominated politics for decades? Why does a country with a historic reputation for machismo boast such progressive laws on gender and gay marriages? Why does political corruption remain so prevalent? This course examines political and social issues relevant to Spaniards today. It begins by discussing recent history in order to contextualize the major themes of the past few decades. It then moves to those subjects that emerged out of the transition to democracy – regionalism, terrorism, and linguistic pluralism – and still account for many of the peculiarities of Spanish politics. The second half of the course analyzes “Spain’s Second Transition” under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero by focusing on immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, foreign policy, gender and family relations, historical memory, political corruption, and the economic crisis. The course is multi-disciplinary, consisting of a mixture of readings from political science, history, and cultural studies. Each session will consist of a lecture and a class discussion.

COURSE: POLS321
CREDITS: 18 points

Pre-requisite: 18 200-level POLS points or special permission from the Head of Department.

This paper examines how and why policy decisions are made by the New Zealand government, who they are made for, and how they can be changed.

Why do governments pursue certain courses of action and implement particular sets of policies during specific periods of history? Who makes policy and how? Why does policy matter? What is the relationship between economic and political power? Who runs New Zealand? More generally, how do we understand politics? The overall aim of the paper is for students to understand how and why public policy is made in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Assessment
Reading blogs: 10%
Policy theory essay and presentation: 25%
Critical theory essay: 25%
Policy evaluation: 40%

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COURSE: POLS308
CREDITS: 18 points

Pre-requisite: 18 200-level POLS points or special permission of the lecturer.

The formulation and implementation of US foreign policy. Institutions, the strategy of containment, and the US role in a post-Cold War world.

Assessment
Essay: 30%
Individual tutorial group essay: 20%
Final examination (2 hours): 50%

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COURSE: 395/595
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours

This course is designed for students interested in an academically rigorous and cultural experience in Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain and France. The academic component consists of a series of briefings from leading European academic, literary and political personalities and experts on the European relationship with the Islamic world. Participants will attend daily lectures and meetings with distinguished scholars in addition to local guides and experts in the field of politics, art history, history and culture. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of North African immigration to Europe and its current socio-cultural implications.

Courses offered include:

  • Art History 395: Classical Islam and the European Renaissance
  • Cross Cultural Studies 395: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Europe and the Islamic World
  • French 395: Cultural History of France and the Islamic World
  • History 395: Cultural History of Europe and the Islamic World
  • Political Science 395: European Politics and the Islamic World
  • Religious Studies 395: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Europe and the Islamic World
  • Spanish 395: Cultural History of Spain and the Islamic World

The syllabus for this program remains the same regardless of which course the student undertakes. As students are visiting the same sites, attending the same lectures, partaking in the same activities, etc. they are learning the same content. The difference is in their assessment pieces. The topic and focus of a student’s assessment pieces will be based on what course they have chosen.

COURSE: SPAN 350
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: January / July: Session 1 and 2

Why are Spaniards currently exhuming mass graves of the Civil War? How can the country tolerate an unemployment rate of 20 percent? Why has Catalan and Basque nationalism dominated politics for decades? Why does a country with a historic reputation for machismo boast such progressive laws on gender and gay marriages? Why does political corruption remain so prevalent? This course examines political and social issues relevant to Spaniards today. It begins by discussing recent history in order to contextualize the major themes of the past few decades. It then moves to those subjects that emerged out of the transition to democracy – regionalism, terrorism, and linguistic pluralism – and still account for many of the peculiarities of Spanish politics. The second half of the course analyzes “Spain’s Second Transition” under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero by focusing on immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, foreign policy, gender and family relations, historical memory, political corruption, and the economic crisis. The course is multi-disciplinary, consisting of a mixture of readings from political science, history, and cultural studies. Each session will consist of a lecture and a class discussion.

CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: Session 2

Students will examine the process of European political and economic integration, from its first steps in the 1950s until today. The course offers an overview to the key dimensions that help understand what the European Union project is, how it works and why and how it was created. Particular attention is paid to EU migration and border dynamics and their interaction with ongoing debates about European identity and the rise of xenophobic and Islamophobic discourses across Europe. With a strong emphasis in current theoretical debates ongoing in the fields of political geography and population geography current demographic challenges and ongoing geopolitical disputes (within the EU and between the EU and its neighbourhood) will be scrutinised.

CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: Session 1

This course examines the main political and socio-economic processes that help understand present-day Barcelona, particularly after the 1992 Olympics turned it into a vibrant global city. Through the lens of politics, human geography and history, students will explore topics like massive tourism, gentrification, environmental sustainability, the real state bubble, or immigration dynamics. Special attention will be paid to the tense power relations between Catalonia and Spain, the political heritage of Franco’s fascist dictatorship and the rise of the Catalan independence movement.

COURSE: CAS PO 300 / CAS WS 304
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Special Topics in American Politics. This course delves into the world of Black Widows and Demon Lovers. Using empirical research, case studies, and drama, the course separates fact from fiction to examine gender and its intersections between recruitment, motivations, and conditions under which women behave violently.

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COURSE: CAS IR 501 / CAS PO 554
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Prereq: junior standing or consent of instructor.

Investigates patterns of conflict and cooperation in South and East Asia surrounding issues ranging from water resources and health to borders and war. Analyzes how such issues contribute to instability in the region, as well as methods of cooperation.

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COURSE: CAS IR 330
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

This course is designed to familiarize students with the “art of the possible,” emphasizing the evolution of diplomatic practice. Students will be able to understand how foreign policy is formulated and promulgated and how diplomacy works on a daily basis. The course explores the role and importance of multilateral diplomacy/international organizations (liberalism) in today’s world and examines how multilateral diplomacy functions. Students will grasp the core principles of diplomatic negotiations and demonstrate them in simulations.

This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Research and Information Literacy, Teamwork/Collaboration.

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COURSE: CAS PO 390
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Special Topics in Political Theory. In this political theory course, we examine dilemmas surrounding domination and liberation in political theory and practice. We ask what liberation is, how diverse forms of domination obstruct it; and whether freedom can be sustained in a lasting way.

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COURSE: CAS PO 330
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

Special Topics in Comparative Politics. Introduces students to key theories explaining the rise of extremism in democracies, including economic marginalization, the democratic deficit, and ethnic competition and gives students the tools to evaluate contemporary political events through the lens of these (and other) theories.

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COURSE: CAS IR 230
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

Introduction to basic concepts of international politics: the state system and types of states, modern ideologies, legal frameworks of international transactions, and political regions. Also raises key issues such as population, the environment, war, and international law.

Carries social science divisional credit in CAS.

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COURSE: CAS IR 350
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

What are the causes and consequences of the global Cold War? How was the twentieth-century international system transformed by East-West conflict, North-South disparity and South-South cooperation and competition? What lessons can be drawn from this recent past? These are some of the questions examined by this course. The course contextualizes present-day international and regional conflicts and cooperation in the recent past, collectively analyzes primary source documents, and discusses policy implications.

This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Research and Information Literacy.

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COURSE: CAS IR 349
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

What were the causes and the consequences of the two World Wars? What was the nature of political, economic, and military relations among the major powers of the world from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of the Second World War? What was the effect of domestic factors (political, economic, religious, and ideological) on the foreign policies of individual states? Seeking to provide a genuinely multinational perspective on world affairs, this course assesses the ways in which powerful nation-states in this period competed and cooperated in the international system.

This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Historical Consciousness, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Research and Information Literacy.

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COURSE: CAS PO 329 / CAS IR 390
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Emphasizes the dynamic interaction between politics and economics to understand and explain historical and contemporary issues in international political economy, including international monetary, trade, investment, financial, and environmental relations. Considers emerging challenges and structures in the international political economy.

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COURSE: CAS PO 171 / CAS IR 271
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1 and 2

Explores major issues in international relations, including conflict, cooperation, and governance. Addresses dominant international relations theories and their application. Investigates state system, international law and organization, transnational actors, state behavior, and globalization.

Carries social science divisional credit in CAS. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Social Inquiry I, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.

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COURSE: CAS PO 320
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

Special Topics in American Politics. Investigates the judiciary’s role in the policy making process. Compares the courts with other political institutions and explores how they differ in their policy-making role. The objective is to develop an understanding of the courts as political actors.

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COURSE: CAS PO 328 / CAS IR 395
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Employs a multidisciplinary approach to analyze the relations between the industrialized nations of the “North” and the developing nations of the “South.” Addresses historical and current issues in North-South relations, including trade, investment, migration, regional economic integration, and the environment.

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COURSE: CAS IR 527 / CAS PO 548
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Prereq: junior standing or consent of instructor.

How did China implement economic reform? What were the progresses and limitations? How is China’s political-economic development influencing the global system? Discussions are conducted in a comparative perspective. Countries of reference include Japan and India.

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COURSE: CAS PH 155
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

What is justice? What are the foundations of property rights, liberty, and equality? Are anarchism and utopianism defensible? This course is an introduction to major themes and questions in political philosophy. It includes a study of classical and modern texts, as well as contemporary political issues.

Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking.

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COURSE: MET UA 510
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Special Topics in Urban Affairs. Since the mid-1800s, scientists and researchers have continuously shown how public policies significantly impact the health of individuals now and in the future. Through readings, case studies, guest lectures, and in-class exercises, students learn about the lasting impacts of many of these policies. Students are also introduced to a variety of strategies used to design interventions that target urban problems and to the role of evidence in the policymaking process. This course is well suited for curious students with an introductory background in planning, public health, and related fields.

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COURSE: CAS PO 300
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Special Topics in American Politics. How do Americans think about race and how does attitude influence political preferences? Students first look into traditional understandings of race and public opinion and then examine recent developments promising to change the role of racial attitudes in American Politics.

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COURSE: CAS IR 337 / CAS PO 379 / CAS RN 379
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 1

Introduction to the comparative study of the political role of religious institutions and beliefs. Covers issues such as religion’s relationship to violence and terrorism, democracy and human rights, group identity, gender and sexuality, and modernity and secularism.

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COURSE: CAS IR 300 / CAS PO 380
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

Topics in International Relations. This course studies the evolution and current status of the women’s movement throughout select African countries on issues such as politics and media culture. Its goal is to provide a broad understanding of women’s lives in the region, both in relation to and separate from globalization.

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COURSE: CAS WR 150
CREDITS: 4 US credits
OFFERED: Session 2

In this course, students write about marijuana’s polarizing influence in recent American history. Marijuana prohibition in America has evolved to reflect political, social, economic, and scientific trends in twentieth-century US history. This course questions the role of science and morality in drug enforcement policy and evaluates the recent push for decriminalization during three periods: the prohibition years in the first half of the century; the countercultural period after the 1950s and the backlash it created; and the medicinal marijuana era that followed the 1980s. Sources for this course include Martin Lee’s Smoke Signals, Richard Nixon’s presidential recordings, and Dorm Room Dealer: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class by Mohamed and Fritsvold, as well as examples of popular culture from Reefer Madness to Cheech and Chong.

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COURSE: LACRCM390
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 45 contact hours
OFFERED: July Sessions: 1, A

This course presents the specific structural and phenomenological aspects of the various types of mafia operating in Italy and internationally. Topics analyse contemporary criminal, social, cultural, and political features of mafia-related groups and explore traditional and emerging illegal markets. The course describes main Italian and international law policies and legislations to contrast this type of organised crime and the experiences of leading individuals and groups developing a culture of legality to combat the mafia.

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COURSE: CHICANO 180
CREDITS: 4 US credits

Overview of Chicana/Chicano schooling issues in U.S., with special emphasis on several important historical events that exemplify struggle for educational justice and equity that affected Chicana/Chicano education–Mendez versus Westminster (1947) desegregation case and 1968 high school Chicana/Chicano student walkouts. Through oral history projects, documentation of legacy of Sylvia Mendez, who experienced segregation in one Mexican school in 1940s, Sal Castro, Chicano teacher and central figure in 1968 walkouts, and Chicano Youth Leadership Conference (CYLC). Examination of how historical, social, and political forces have impacted Chicana/Chicano educational experiences.

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COURSE: ENVIRON M164 / URBN PL M160
CREDITS: 4 US credits

Environmental planning is more than simply finding problems and fixing them. Each policy must be negotiated and implemented within multiple, complex systems of governance. Institutions and politics matter deeply. Overview of how environmental governance works in practice and how it might be improved.  

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COURSE: WL ARTS M79
CREDITS: 5 Units

Examination of issues of environmental and public health effects of intensive and extensive agriculture, influence of corporations on government, animal ethics, food deserts and urban gardening, and food insecurity. Focus on representation of such issues in documentaries, public lectures, memoirs, novels, and visual art, as well as on initiatives to address such problems through policy and activism.

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COURSE: POL SCI 154B
CREDITS: 4 US credits

Comparative study of governmental and political development, organization, and practices.

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COURSE: POL SCI 135
CREDITS: 4 US credits

Relations of China with its neighbors and other powers, with emphasis on contemporary interests and policies of China vis-à-vis U.S.

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COURSE: POL SCI 40
CREDITS: 5 Units

Basic institutions and processes of democratic politics. Treatment of themes such as constitutionalism, representation, participation, and leadership coupled with particular emphasis on the American case.

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COURSE: PHILOS 6
CREDITS: 5 Units

Study of some classical or contemporary works in political philosophy. Questions that may be discussed include What is justice? Why obey the law? Which form of government is best? How much personal freedom should be allowed in society?

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COURSE: POL SCI 10
CREDITS: 5 Units

Exposition and analysis of selected political theorists and concepts from Plato to the present.

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COURSE: PUB PLC 10A
CREDITS: 5 Units

Overview of principal topics of contemporary policy analysis, developing their applications with examples from instructor’s own research, visitors, small student projects, or field trips.

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COURSE: CHICANO M124
CREDITS: 5 Units

Overview of Mexican, Central American, and Latina/Latino immigration to U.S., examining social, political, and economic contexts out of which different waves of Latin American immigration have occurred.

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COURSE: INTL DV M120
CREDITS: 4 US credits

Contact CISaustralia for course description.

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COURSE: POL SCI 30
CREDITS: 5 Units

Introduction to study of strategic interaction in political applications. Use of game theory and other formal modeling strategies to understand politics.

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COURSE: PUB PLC 10D
CREDITS: 5 Units

Application of policy analysis to issues and solutions concerning homelessness. Guest lectures from local policymakers.

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COURSE: PUB PLC 10C
CREDITS: 5 Units

Application of policy analysis, including critical analysis, problem solving, and substantive policy research, to develop knowledge and understanding about drug and crime policy, with focus on cannabis. Guest lectures by instructors and guest academics and practitioners, with readings from academic literature and policy reports.

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COURSE: GEOG 145
CREDITS: 4-5 Units

Pre-requisite: One course from Geography 3, Geography 4, Anthropology 3, Gender Studies 10 or Sociology 1.

Exploration of how, why, and to what ends human trafficking has been conceptualized as global problem that warrants international response. Examination of recent activist, governmental, scholarly, and media responses, and reflection on what is and is not accomplished by them. Questions of human trafficking are implicitly geographical, requiring consideration of ways freedom is spatially defined and how movement across borders is encouraged and regulated. How questions of labor, migration, sexuality, rights, ethics, embodiment, representation, and governance pertain to human trafficking. What people mean when they speak of human trafficking as slavery. Meanings of slavery and freedom in world today using examples from U.S. and Europe, with focus on Philippines as case study for exploring both contemporary examples and historical forms of enslavement.

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COURSE: POL3420
CREDITS: 4 US credits / 60 contact hours

In this course, we will explore the dynamics of environmental management, history, policy, politics and action in Costa Rica and beyond. We will study environmental history and policy at a regional and national level, and will explore the emergence of Costa Rica’s cutting edge environmental politics and government commitments (the greening of the public sector, carbon neutrality and others).

We will look back at Costa Rica’s conservation history and critically review its sustainable development model, and will explore the “state of the nation and region” in regard to environmental indicators (land use methods and statistics, deforestation and reforestation data, contamination and waste indicators). We will identify the individuals and organisations taking authentic action in environmental protection, and will take a close look at how government policy translates into practice by reviewing case studies of community and grassroots action in forestry, organic farming, recycling, cooperatives and women’s environmental groups. Lastly, we will address some of the central issues and challenges facing these activities and the resulting environmental conflicts.

COURSE: POL3100
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 48 contact hours

This course is a general survey of the complex social and political heritage of Costa Rican society, examined through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary view focusing on the historical development and present-day dynamics of economy, society, polity, natural resources and culture. This course analyses the growth of Costa Rican culture through its history, studying the development of those elements that relate to the values of peace and democracy, which have become the standard bearers that identify this society. Emphasis is paid to the way these basic principles are enriched, highlighted and respected in different periods of history, to the point of becoming firmly entrenched in the value systems of society. Special attention will be given to contemporary issues of peace, democracy, environment, economic and political trends, population, and the emergence of old and new paradigms and ideological movements.

COURSE: POL2500
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 48 contact hours

This course will provide students with an introduction to the issues surrounding the development and abuse of human rights in Latin America. Students will explore the most recent advances in this field along with the most pertinent problems pertaining to their adoption and implementation. A particular emphasis will be given to the case of Costa Rica, giving students an opportunity to explore the development of human rights in the following areas: women’s rights, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, the CAFTA agreement and labour rights, indigenous groups and human rights, disability and age issues, and the prison environment. Specific attention will be given to testimonies of human rights abuses and the development of the Costa Rican legal framework in relation to these aforementioned areas. By analysing these cases and the issues involved, students will gain an understanding of how human rights are being implemented through Costa Rica’s laws, policy framework and its institutional commitment to human rights.

COURSE: POL3220
CREDITS: 3 US credits / 48 contact hours

The course introduces students to the theories and practices of international human migration as a phenomenon that, while present throughout history, has particular emphasis in today’s world. With human ramifications, its strong societal effects are evident on both ends of the issue—the nations from which people leave, and the targeted destinations. We will review the phenomenon based on its most prominent manifestations: forced migrations, voluntary migrations and internal displacements of groupings of people, and the motivational underpinnings that provoke such drastic actions as the uprooting of home and family in pursuit of presumably better opportunities.

Migration is perceived by peoples in despair as an alternative to heavily weighing social, political and/or economic conditions, even when factoring in risks such as personal safety and adaptation to an unknown culture. Within this framework, we will analyse issues such as return migrations, the effects of remittances, the formation of diaspora communities, and the myriad of problems brought about by cultural adaptation and assimilation.

COURSE: ISSU9IR
CREDITS: 10 UK credits (24 contact hours + independent study & full-day excursion)
OFFERED: Session 2

This module explores contemporary issues and debates that shape world politics today. It starts by introducing International Relations (IR) theory before turning to two broad themes that dominate IR: conflict and peace. We will apply these themes to a case study of the Northern Ireland conflict exploring the key political developments and the transition to a post conflict settlement. This module will also include a workshop that examines the use of wall murals to articulate conflict/post-conflict identity in Northern Ireland.

Excursion(s): This module includes a day trip to St Andrews, where we’ll undertake a tour of Scotland’s Secret Bunker – an underground compound built to safeguard Scotland during the Cold War.

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