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Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Unit 1 Studying International Relations Notes

a. How do you understand International Relations: Levels of Analysis.

b. History of IR: Emergence of the International State System.

c. Pre-Westphalia and Westphalia d. Post-Westphalia.




  • International relations is the study of the interaction of nation-states and non-governmental organizations in fields such as politics, economics, and security.

  • Professionals work in academia, government, and non-profits to understand and develop cooperative exchanges between nations that benefit commerce, security, quality of life, and the environment.

  • The term international was first used by Jeremy Bentham in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

  • In other words, IR should focus on the study of all relations-political, diplomatic trade, ,academic among sovereign states which constitute the subject matter on international relations.



  • It is not only the nations seek to regulate, varied types of groups-nations, states, governments, people, region, alliances, confederations, international organizations, cultural organizations, religious organizations must be dealt with in the study of international relations if the treatment is to be made realistic.” (Quincy Wright)

  • “International relations is concerned with the factors and activities, that affect the external policies and the powers of the basic units into that the world is divided.” (Hoffman).

  • “International relations is the discipline, that tries to explain political activities across state boundaries (Trevor Taylor).


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  • The context and nature of IR have undergone major changes after the Second World War

  • Traditionally, world politics was centered around Europe and relations among nations were largely conducted by officials of foreign offices in secrecy.

  • Decolonization has resulted in the emergence of a large number of sovereign states.

  • The former colonies of the European Powers, including India, have become important actors on the stage of international relations.

  • The disintegration of the Soviet Union has created 15 members of the United Nations, instead of the previous three.

  • The total number of U.N. members has gone up from 51 in 1945 to 185 in 1997.

  • Thus, international relations are now conducted by such a large number of new nation-states. Besides, many non-state actors such as multinational corporations and transnational bodies like terrorist groups have been influencing international relations in a big way.

  • The role of the 'Third World' has changed along with that of NAM.



The definition and scope of international Relations are not complete without understanding the scope of international relations.

IR as a Field of Study

  • IR is a rather practical discipline. There is a close connection between scholars in colleges, universities, think tanks, and the policy-making community working in the government.

  • In this way, they influence their government’s foreign policy. It provides the scholars with a forum and a laboratory to test their ideas in practice. Therefore, diplomats, bureaucrats, and politicians benefit from knowledge.

Study of Foreign Policy

  • IR is foreign policy. In the past, kings or prime ministers or a few individuals played an active role in determining foreign policy.

  • Today, not only statesmen but also the legislature and many citizens are involved in the formulation of foreign policy.

Study of Nation States

  • The ethnic composition, geographical location, historical background, religion or ideologies of different states are not the same at all.

  • And because of all these differences, the relationship between different states is different.

  • So international relations need to discuss all these differences in detail. When the social environment is different, his reaction falls on international relations.


To analyze the scope of International Relations let’s discuss its levels.

  1. Individual Level Analysis- Individual level analysis views the leaders of states as being the largest influencers of foreign policy.

  2. Organizational Level Analysis: Organizational level analysis examines how organizations within a state influence the state’s foreign policy behavior. In other words, organizational level analysis views that organizations—not states—make the decisions that create a state’s foreign policy.

  3. State Level Analysis: State level analysis examines how a state’s characteristics determine its foreign policy behavior.

  4. System Level Analysis: System level analysis looks at the international system; more specifically, how the international system affects the behavior of nation states, with the key variable being that the international system includes the power of each state rather than being independent of them.

  • Levels of analysis present diverse interpretations of international events. For example, there exist a number of theories and reasons pertaining to the 2003 US-led war against Iraq.

  • If viewed from an individual perspective, the outbreak of war could be ascribed to Saddam Hussain’s illogical and stupid perception of defeating the forces that stood against him or to President George W. Bush’s desire to remove an abhorred person from the helm.



6. Examining the Theories of International Relations

Theories of international relations are essentially a set of ideas aimed at explaining how the international system works.

The two, major theories of international relations are realism and liberalism:


1) Realism focuses on the notion that states work to increase their own power relative to other states.

2) The theory of realism states that the only certainty in the world is power; therefore, a powerful state—via military power (the most important and reliable form of power)—will always be able to outlast its weaker competitors.

3) Self-preservation is a major theme in realism, as states must always seek power to protect themselves.

4) In realism, the international system drives states to use military force.

5) Although leaders may be moral, they must not let morality guide their foreign policy.


  1. The theory of liberalism in international relations therefore involves the decreased use of military power.

  2. The theory of liberalism saw its first strong post-WWII emergence in the 1970s as increasing globalization, communications technology, and international trade made some scholars argue that realism was outdated.

  3. Liberal approaches to the study of international relations, also referred to as theories of complex interdependence.

7. Conclusion

  • From the above discussion on Meaning Nature and Scope of International Relations, it can be concluded that From the above discussion on Meaning Nature and Scope of International Relations

  • From the past or the time of the ancient empires to modern times i.e. post-World War II world politics and systems, globalization, the Soviet extinction or the famous Cold War and the Third World system, and the international nuances that are still constantly changing and circulating.

That is why the nature of international relations, like economics, political science and sociology, is changing. This issue needs to be considered in the light of this variability.

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