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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Department of Political Science

 Field Requirements

 International Relations

Field Coordinators: Audie Klotz, Lamis Abdelaaty

Learning the field of International Relations requires successful completion of a number of substantive courses as well as significant additional reading outside of these courses. Under ordinary circumstances, students majoring in IR should complete at least four courses in the field during their first four semesters; students minoring in the field should complete at least three courses during this time. Students will then sit for their Qualifying Exams in the August following their second year in the program.

Students who are pursuing advanced language training that is pertinent to their field of study may request modifications of this schedule. Changes for this or any other reason must be approved in writing by the Graduate Director.

Course Work

All students majoring or minoring in IR must take PSC 651: Theories of International Relations. Majors must take at least three additional courses, and minors at least two. Course offerings vary from year to year, but in recent semesters have included:

PSC 600 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Religion, IR & the Media
PSC/PAI 655 Global Information Technology Policy
PSC/MES/PAI 684 International Relations of the Middle East 
PSC 700 EU & US vs. Non-State Threats 
PSC 700 Political Realism in IR
PSC 700 Ethics in International Relations
PSC 703/PAI 713 Governance & Global Civil Society 
PSC 706/PAI 718 U.S. National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy
PSC 749 International Security Theory 
PSC 752 International Law and Organizations
PSC 753 International Political Economy
PSC 754 International Conflict & Peace
PSC 756 Politics of the European Union
PSC 757 Non-State Actors in World Affairs
PSC 759 Crisis Management
PSC 760 Foreign Policy: Korea
PSC 783 Comparative Foreign Policy
PSC 785 Global Migration
PSC 788 Political Leadership
PSC 793 Constructing the World Polity

With the approval of the Graduate Director, courses not on this list may be counted toward the IR field. No more than one of the courses credited toward the IR field may be counted simultaneously toward another field.

Qualifying Examinations

In addition to completing the required course work, all students majoring or minoring in IR should engage in significant reading outside of class in preparation for their qualifying examination. For students receiving summer stipends from the department, we expect the first two summers to be devoted in significant part to this activity.

The IR faculty expect students to exercise their own judgment and initiative in identifying and reading what they take to be the leading works in the field. There is no formal reading list, but all members of the faculty stand ready to offer guidance to students in identifying such works. The Chair and the Graduate Director will, on occasion, schedule meetings at which students and faculty can discuss this issue collectively, but students are encouraged to meet with faculty one-on-one as well.

The written exams will be offered twice per year, typically in August and January. At least three months prior to their written exam, students should inform Candy Brooks of their intention to sit for the exam.

The single-day written exam will be closed book, although students may bring one double-sided 8.5x11 inch sheet of notes to the exam. The exam will consist of at least three general questions plus at least two specific questions representing each of the following subfields: International Political Economy, Foreign Policy, International Security, and International Law & Organizations. Each student who is majoring in IR must answer one question from the general section and two questions from the specific section, with those latter two questions drawn from two different subfields. Students majoring in IR and minoring in Security Studies may not choose a question from the International Security section on the IR exam. Students who are minoring in IR must answer one question from the general section and one question from the specific section. Both majors and minors should avoid choosing questions that significantly overlap with one another, and their essays taken together should demonstrate significant breadth of knowledge within the field. Each essay will be weighted equally, and the faculty recommend that students devote roughly equal amounts of time to drafting each of them.

Roughly two weeks following the written exam, the students will sit for an oral defense, which will be conducted by the two field coordinators plus the student’s advisor, who shall act as chair. Upon completion of the oral exam, the advisor will notify the Graduate Director in writing that the student has passed with distinction, passed, or failed. In the latter case, the student may retake the exam during the following semester. This option may only be exercised once.

Last updated: May 20, 2014.