International Relations Theory

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This book is designed as a foundational entry point to International Relations theory – structured to condense the most important information into the smallest space and present that information in an accessible manner. The first half of the book covers the theories that are most commonly taught in undergraduate programmes. The book then expands to present emerging approaches and offer wider perspectives. Each chapter sets out the basics of a theory whilst also applying it to a real-world event or issue, creating a lively, readable and relevant guide that will help students to see not only what theories are – but why they matter.

Edited by: Stephen McGlinchey, Rosie Walters and Christian Scheinpflug.

Contributors: Victor Adetula, Amitav Acharya, Sandrina Antunes, Lina Benabdallah, Isabel Camisão, Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon, Jeff Corntassel, Alix Dietzel, Hugh C. Dyer, Clara Eroukhmanoff, Marcos Farias Ferreira, Dana Gold, Richard Ned Lebow, Aishling Mc Morrow, Jeffrey W. Meiser, Carlos Murillo-Zamora, Sheila Nair, Maïa Pal, Alex Prichard, Felix Rösch, Archie W. Simpson, Sarah Smith, Yannis A. Stivachtis, Sarina Theys, Markus Thiel, Marc Woons and Pichamon Yeophantong.

Chapter outline

Introduction: GETTING STARTED WITH INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY (Stephen McGlinchey, Rosie Walters & Dana Gold)


  1. REALISM (Sandrina Antunes & Isabel Camisão)
  2. LIBERALISM (Jeffrey W. Meiser)
  3. THE ENGLISH SCHOOL (Yannis A. Stivachtis)
  4. CONSTRUCTIVISM (Sarina Theys)
  5. MARXISM (Maïa Pal)
  6. CRITICAL THEORY (Marcos Farias Ferreira)
  7. POSTSTRUCTURALISM (Aishling Mc Morrow)
  8. FEMINISM (Sarah Smith)
  9. POSTCOLONIALISM (Sheila Nair)
  10. TOWARDS A GLOBAL IR? (Amitav Acharya)


  1. GREEN THEORY (Hugh C. Dyer)
  2. GLOBAL JUSTICE (Alix Dietzel)
  3. QUEER THEORY (Markus Thiel)
  4. SECURITISATION THEORY (Clara Eroukhmanoff)
  5. CRITICAL GEOGRAPHY (Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon & Archie W. Simpson)
  6. ASIAN PERSPECTIVES (Pichamon Yeophantong)
  7. GLOBAL SOUTH PERSPECTIVES (Lina Benabdallah, Victor Adetula & Carlos Murillo-Zamora)
  8. INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES (Jeff Corntassel & Marc Woons)
  10. THE ‘ISMS’ ARE EVIL. ALL HAIL THE ‘ISMS’! (Alex Prichard)


“This is a superb book. It offers a comprehensive listing that is imaginatively presented and enormously accessible. Helpfully, too, it takes the form of a global conversation. IR theory at its sparkling best.”

Peter Vale, Professor of Humanities, University of Johannesburg; Professor of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Nanyang Technological University and Nelson Mandela Professor of Politics Emeritus, Rhodes University.

“In the plethora of textbooks on IR almost none depart from ‘playing it safe’, giving forms of instruction in the rudiments of established theories. The great breakout of this volume is its entire second half of proposing quite radical new ways of looking at the world. The book is both ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ and in both it is sometimes witty in a way that students will savour – learning what IR is, and what it could be. A lovely book in which even the doyens of ‘old’ IR are sometimes bold.”

Stephen Chan OBE, Professor of World Politics, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.

“This rich volume offers a highly accessible and exceptionally broad-ranging introduction to the field of International Relations theory. In 20 short chapters the book provides a highly readable and comprehensive overview of core theoretical frameworks ranging from ‘mainstream’ realism and liberalism all the way to queer theory and critical geography. By placing each theory in context, and by providing a wealth of easily graspable examples, the book provides ‘one-stop shopping’ for the full range of theoretical frameworks and concepts – along with welcome attention to non-western perspectives. An excellent place to start.”

Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, Senior University Lecturer in International Relations at Cambridge University.



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