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Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 23

BIG (8 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SPS/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 23 (I sem.)

Class-group lessons delivered  on campus

Suggested background knowledge

Being a second year course, is such that students who have completed the first year courses can navigate the material more efficiently than those who haven’t completed the first year courses. Especially students are expected to be comfortable with micro-economics.

Mission & Content Summary

The course offers at the same time an introduction to international relations and a set of analytical tools to be prepared for strategic analysis of international and national crises. Both conflict situations or conflict risks on the one hand and the development of cooperation and international institutions on the other hand can be studied with a rational agents logic.


The course has two parts, one primarily on conflict and one primarily on cooperation and functioning of institutions. The main topics of part one  are:

  • Interstate conflict onset and relationship with interdependence.
  • Civil war risk and the role of resource availability.
  • Inequality of resource endowments and geography as  structural causes of conflict.
  • Genocides.
  • Terrorism.

In the second part we cover primarily the role of United Nations, the WTO and other international organizations nd international agreements. Special attention is devoted to EU institutions and to the recently more pressing problems related to migration and globalization.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Assess the risk of conflict in a given described situation or scenario.
  • Compare conflict risk of different scenarios.
  • Relate interstate or civil war risk to different  types of interdependence or institutions or regimes.
  • Resolve simple mathematical examples of situations.
  • Transform complex situations in  simple model formats that allow to structure  and give sequential logic to the events.
  • Explain violence incentives at all level in terms of material and non material ncentives and preconditions.
  • Analyze the role of different types of international organizations or agreements for peace and cooperation.
  • Understand the key evolution steps of national and supranational institutions.
  • Evaluate the necessity of further integration in Europe.
  • Evaluate the impact of migration and globalization shocks on the necessity or desirability of international institutions.
At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Distinguish the effects of a market change (like protectionism jump) on civil war risk, depending on the internal characteristics of the country and depending on the network of trades and position of the country in such a network.
  • Make logical conclusions on the effects of changes in market conditions on interstate war risks, depending again on the network of interstate trades and on the position of a particular diad or link in such a network.
  • Evaluate the desirability of various types of intervention policies by  individual super powers or by international organizations.
  • Consult companies on relative attractiveness of investment locations given the geopolitical expected events  that we learn to evaluate.
  • Participate to many kinds of debates about the future and evolution of WTO, EU, individual nation states.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)

Each class is a lecture, but there are several guest speakers and the material of different sections are covered by expert instructors.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •   x  

    Students are evaluated on the basis of a partial exam in October and a second partial in January (or
    December for exchange students), both counting 50 percent of the grade, or else on the basis of a
    comprehensive general exam (for those who do not take the partial in October or prefer to re-do
    everything). In all exams, partials or general, there will be mostly open questions, aimed to test the acquired ability to rationalize phenomena. Part of the open questions focus on the formal analysis and part of the questions test the general understanding of international relations. A small fraction of questions may be with multiple choices, in order to test the ability to discern subtle differences.

    Teaching materials

    Collection of articles and book chapters or dispense, to be decided at end of June.

    Last change 05/07/2019 09:07