Course Descriptions 2018-19

(I) Compulsory courses:

  • POLI6004. Theories of International Relations (6 credits)

    This survey course is designed for graduate students and offers a rigorous introduction to the main debates and theoretical perspectives of international relations: what do we know about international conflict and international cooperation? Is the state the most significant actor in international affairs today? Can theory inform us about the actual day-to-day of international politics? Students will familiarize themselves with a variety of theoretical perspectives; however, the course will not manage to cover in depth and breadth each theoretical approach to International Relations theory. It is most likely that you will leave the course with more questions than answers.
    Assessment: 100% coursework
  • POLI6006. International Political Economy (6 credits)

    This course studies the international political economy. How do economic and political forces interact in the international arena? How do these interactions shape the outcomes experienced globally, nationally, and by individual citizens? We address these questions in this course. We begin by sharpening our thinking technologies: grasping the key analytical paradigms used in IPE, and developing the methodological awareness that we need in order to consume IPE research. Equipped with the tools to understand IPE, we next turn to its substance. Substantive topics include international trade, global capital flows, financial crises, multinational production, climate change, international movements of people, and the performance of different national economies in the global economic system. We conclude by reflecting on ethical dilemmas, the future of the global political economy, and how that future affects us individually and collectively.
    Assessment: 60% coursework, 40% examination
    • (II) Capstone Project:

        POLI6031. Capstone Project (12 credits)

        The capstone project enables students to integrate what they have learned from the MIPA Programme and demonstrate their ability to analyze critical issues in international relations and public affairs. Students will work in small groups and complete a research project. A topic is selected in consultation with relevant teaching staff in September and the title of the capstone project is submitted for approval by 1 December of the final academic year of study. The project is then researched and written and submitted for examination by 31 May of the final academic year of study.
        Assessment: 100% coursework

      (III) Core courses:

      • POLI6005. International Organizations (6 credits)

        This course provides a general survey of the development of international organizations. It begins with the philosophical and theoretical foundations of international organizations. This toolbox is then used to explain the role of the main international institutions in specific policy domains, including international security, trade, human rights and environment. For each of those domains, the course analyses the construction of the global policy problems, the international organizations established at addressing them, the way in which policies are negotiated and decided within those institutions, and their ability to solve the problems that motivated their creation. Special emphasis is given to exploring the roles and functions of the United Nations, and its affiliated organizations. Attention will also be given to regional organizations such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and European Union (EU). Students will complete the course with a deeper understanding of the both similarities and differences between international organizations and their effective contribution to the governance of global politics.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6007. International Relations in the Asia-Pacific (6 credits)

        This course is a survey of international relations in the Asia Pacific region. Instead of providing a comprehensive examination of the history, culture, and national policies of countries in the region, it mainly addresses four issues here: What are major trends in regional IR? What is the source of conflict in the region? What are the common interests that unite peoples and states of the Asian Pacific? How does the region organise itself? It explains dynamics and patterns of regional international relations in a broad geopolitical and geoeconomic context. Topics in discussion include major powers’ role in the region, the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, ASEAN, Southeast Asia and regional institution-building.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6008. Understanding Global Problems: Theory and Practice (6 credits)

        This course aims to critically explore some of the major challenges confronting an international community that is faced with unprecedented levels of global interdependency and escalating power asymmetry. The class will provide a detailed analysis of the issues at stake, providing students with the intellectual grounding necessary to critically evaluate many of our most pressing global problems and their proposed solutions. While the list of controversies changes each semester, some past questions have included: Are genetically modified foods crucial to the fight against hunger? Is U.S. hegemony a force for global (in)stability? Is globalization inherently "anti-religious"? Was NATO intervention in Kosovo justified? In exploring these and other controversies, the course will combine perspectives from the academic literature with those of practitioners, including senior diplomats, representatives from non-governmental organizations, government officials, and corporate executives.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6010. Chinese Foreign Policy (6 credits)

        This course examines key foreign policy issues and the process of foreign policy making of the People’s Republic of China. It begins with a framework of analysis for studying Chinese foreign policy. Different models and explanations are used in analyzing Chinese foreign policy. Special emphasis is placed on the revolutionary source of Chinese foreign policy and China’s position in the changing international environment during the Cold War and its rise as a major global power in recent years.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6029. War and Armed Conflict: Philosophical Issues (6 credits)

        This course provides a thorough introduction into the moral issues of war and armed conflict, with a focus on current debates in just war theory, and in particular on such controversial issues as “the moral (in)equality of soldiers”, the principle of discrimination, terrorism, torture, guerrilla warfare and humanitarian intervention.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6032. International Law (6 credits)

        This course is taught under the assumption that most of the students are not majoring in public international law. It begins with an introduction to the study of international law, its sources, subjects, and its relations with domestic laws. It is then followed by a number of topics including, state sovereignty over territory and jurisdiction, immunities and treaties, UNCLOS, use of force and peaceful settlements of disputes, human rights and humanitarian laws, economic and environmental laws, etc. The course is mainly composed of two parts: lectures and class discussions. As an integrated part, the discussion session demands everyone’s active participation. A list of international legal issues and/or cases shall be distributed in advance and “mock chambers” of ICJ or other judicial bodies shall be formed by the students from time to time to render decisions or give advisory opinions on the legal questions concerned.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6033. Cross-Taiwan Strait Relations (6 credits)

        This course will explore the historical background and contemporary dynamics of the relationship across the Taiwan Strait, and introduces relevant theoretical concepts and analytical tools in studying cross-Taiwan Strait issues. The Taiwan problem has been a defining issue for China and its rise towards a great power in world affairs. The convergence and divergence between Taiwan and the mainland have troubled the Chinese nation for centuries. The course will examine the historical origin of the Taiwan problem and how cross-Strait relations have evolved since the late 19th century. In studying the evolving Taiwan problem, particular attention will be given on the role of the United States in shaping cross-Strait relations. In studying contemporary dynamics, the course will focus on the issues of economic integration, political dialogues, mutual confidence building, and people-to-people exchanges in the development of cross-Strait relations.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6035. War and Strategy (6 credits)

        Chinese strategist Sun Zi declared: “War is a matter of vital importance to the state; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it should be thoroughly studied.” Complying with Sun’s exhortation this course provides a composite introduction to the theory and practice of modern warfare based upon the precepts of Strategic Studies. It considers the complex relationship between politics and strategy, and the evolution of strategic thought, through focusing on the application of land/air/naval/space/cyber power. It also exposes questions of nuclear deterrence, revolutionary technologies, irregular warfare and terrorism. Through this course students will gain both conceptual and practical knowledge of warfare, and hone their critical and analytical faculties through the examination of complex strategic problems.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6036. Special Topics in International Relations (I) (6 credits)

        This course is designed to explore a selected area or a set of selected issues in international relations studies. The course applies different theoretical approaches to enhance students’ understanding of the changing international order and environment, the future prospects for international conflict and cooperation, international security, and current problems of world politics.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6037.Special Topics in International Relations (II) - Law, politics and international system (6 credits)

        This course examines the complex interaction between law, politics and power in the international system. It is animated by the overarching question of whether power politics can ever really be subordinated to law, and, if so, how. The course comprises two broad strands. Firstly, students will be introduced to the concept of international law. What is it? Where does it come from? And, critically, how is it enforced? We will then build on those foundations by analysing key problems in international law and politics, focusing on substantive areas including human rights, the use of force, international criminal justice and state secession. Taking specific cases, such as the NATO intervention in Kosovo, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, we will examine issues surrounding the legitimacy of war, the possibility for justice beyond the state, and the challenge of balancing the norm of state sovereignty with the notion of self-determination. Upon completion of the course, students will have a deep understanding of both the possibilities and limits of law as a tool for mediating power in the international system.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6038. Special Topics in International Political Economy (I) (6 credits)

        This course applies different theoretical approaches to important historical and contemporary empirical issues in the study of international political economy. Different from the general survey course POLI 6006 International Political Economy, this course examines a set of special topics in international political economy. It examines more recent theoretical developments and applies comparative approaches to real world economic issues. Previous background in the study of international relations and international political economy is helpful but is not a requirement.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6039. Special Topics in International Political Economy (II) (6 credits)

        This course applies different theoretical approaches to important historical and contemporary empirical issues in the study of international political economy. Different from the general survey course POLI 6006 International Political Economy, this course examines a set of special topics in international political economy. It examines more recent theoretical developments and applies comparative approaches to real world economic issues. Previous background in the study of international relations and international political economy is helpful but is not a requirement.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6040. Special Topics in Asia Pacific International Relations (I) - International Security (6 credits) (I)

        The main goal of this course is to provide students with academic knowledge about international security and to train them to utilize it to solve real-world problems. It seeks to acquaint students with major theories and concepts of international security, provide students with tools and framework with which students can analyze current and historical issues in international security objectively and critically; and help students develop skills useful in pursuing a career in areas related to international security. The course is broadly divided into two parts. In the first part, the course introduces international relations theories in order to provide conceptual frameworks with which students can analyze international security issues. It also discusses what causes wars and how to prevent them. It introduces diplomatic and legal tools that states and the international community can utilize to maintain peace and security. In the second part, the course discusses various issues in today’s international security, such as trends in international security in the 21st century, the rise of China and its impact on international security, the role of nuclear deterrence in international security, territorial disputes with a focus on the South China Sea, tension in the Korean Peninsula, internal conflicts and humanitarian intervention, and emerging threats derived from new technologies, such as cyber warfare, robotics and artificial intelligence. In order to help students to develop policymaking skills, the course will require students to write a policy memo and participate in a simulation exercise.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6041. Special Topics in Asia Pacific international relations (II) - China’s Foreign Relations (6 credits)

        This course is a special topics course. It is about China’s foreign relations. But it is also more than just that. Throughout the course, the lectures and readings are also intended to introduce you to concepts, theories or ideas that inform international relations scholarship in general. Therefore, you will hopefully gain a grasp of the conduct of social science inquiry that will enable you to further pursue your academic career and personal interest in international relations. One way to look at this course is that I will try to apply international relations scholarship in general in order to illuminate understanding about China’s foreign relations in particular.

        Given the above objectives, the assigned readings address both cross-national patterns and Chinese tendencies, so that you will be able to place the latter in the context of broader empirical generalizations. These readings also illustrate different theoretical perspectives and claims, and works from both international relations generalists and other scholars who specialize in the study of China’s foreign relations.

        In designating these readings and other course assignments, I have been mindful of the intensive nature of this short course. You will also note that I have assigned the readings in a debate format that pairs two articles providing “point and counterpoint.” By the way, all the articles should be available free online. All you have to do is to type in the author’s name and the article’s title using search engines like google and yahoo. Alternatively, you can access the university’s online resources such as JSTOR by requesting the named journal and then proceed to locate the pertinent article in a particular issue of this journal. Hopefully, by providing you with the reading assignments well in advance, this will give you sufficient time to prepare for the intensive part of the seminar in late November.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6042. Special Topics in Global and Regional Governance (I) - Terrorism and Political Violence (6 credits)

        While warfare between states has become quite infrequent, conflicts between governments and terrorist and insurgent groups have increasingly developed into the predominant forms of political violence. Indeed, long before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, domestic (or transnational) terrorist groups have terrorized tens of millions of civilians and scores of countries around the world. Since the turn of the century, terrorist attacks have also become increasingly lethal and destructive in various ways. As for insurgencies, since the end of WW2, the vast majority of conflict-related deaths around the world have occurred in the context of a civil war between a government and one (or more) insurgent group.

        This course takes an actor-centered approach to the study of terrorism and political violence. It will address, among other things, the goals and origins of terrorist and insurgent groups, the strategies that these non-state actors and governments use to combat each other, the effects that such groups can have upon the unfortunate countries in which they operate (as well as on other countries unfortunate enough to suffer from any ‘spillovers’) and the various ways that these conflicts eventually end. As we explore these issues, we will also acquire in-depth historical knowledge of the history of terrorism and insurgency in general and of a wide range of terrorist and insurgent groups in particular.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6043. Special Topics in Global and Regional Governance (II) (6 credits)

        This course examines current scholarly debates relating to the interdisciplinary study of global and regional governance in the context of globalization. The current wave of globalization has created opportunities and challenges for governance at both global and regional levels. This course introduces students to the study of a set of selected issues in global and/or regional governance. It examines competing perspectives on globalization, global governance, regionalization, and regional governance. It explores the sources and consequences of globalization and regionalization as well as the key actors, institutions, regimes, and norms of global and regional governance.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6044. World Energy Issues: International Political Economy and Security (6 credits)

        This course examines the interaction of global energy concerns with economic and geopolitical issues, with a focus on petroleum. Energy has been central to the formulation of national strategies, regional security dynamics, great power politics, and the macroeconomic stability. The class begins by providing an overview about oil in international security and political economy, and then examines the role of oil in geopolitics and economy in regions such as the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and East Asia in more detail. The classes will involve in-depth discussions about many of current international issues including Russian relations with Ukraine, wars and conflicts in the Persian Gulf, the recent Iran nuclear deal, as well as China's growth and its diplomacy where the political economy of oil has been a major factor. The course also looks at other current energy issues such as the shale oil boom, the future of nuclear power, and the impact of energy on the environment.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6045. The Politics of Global Inequality (6 credits)

        This class explores several questions surrounding the importance of income inequality. Why have some countries grown rich while others have not? Why are some societies more equal than others? Is wealth inequality the only type of inequality? Does inequality even matter? This class examines these questions by studying the political economy of growth and inequality. The main goal of this course is to understand both the causes and the consequences of income inequality. To this end, this course will draw from a variety of theoretical perspectives including economics, political science, psychology, and sociology to examine the sources of inequality and what can be done about it.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6046. Political and Sovereign Risk Assessment (6 credits)

        This course will assess political and sovereign risk models from an academic, governmental, and business perspective. The course will introduce both quantitative and qualitative models of political and sovereign risk analysis within the framework of theories of international political economy (IPE). The course will apply these models to the sovereign debt crisis of the 1980s, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and current issues within the global economic order. Students will learn how to analyze and present contemporary international risk assessments that integrate theoretical models, historical experience, financial market constraints, economic realities, and political exigencies.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI8004. Government and Law (6 credits)

        This course examines the legal regulation of governmental powers at the constitutional and administrative levels. Topics include: the constitutional development of Hong Kong under “One Country Two Systems” and the Basic Law; principles of constitutional and legal interpretation; constitutional protection of human rights under the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights; the nature of judicial review of administrative actions; exercise of discretionary powers by administrative officials; principles of judicial review and their application in actual cases.
        Assessment: 50% coursework, 50% examination
      • POLI8014. NGOs and Governance (6 credits)

        This course examines the relationships between and among the state, market and civil society with particular reference to the work of those not-for-profit organizations and associations which are normally referred to as NGOs. It focuses on the legal-structural dimensions of NGOs and the ways in which they operate in the production, provision, ownership, regulation and facilitation of various goods and services.
        Assessment: 60% coursework, 40% examination

      (IV) Elective courses:

      • POLI6021. Overseas Study at Peking University: “Current Issues in China’s International Relations” (6 credits)

        The course will explore the major foreign policy issues that are confronting China in recent years. These issues include China and globalization, China and regional security, China’s relations with US, China’s relations with Europe, China’s relations with Japan, and China and international environmental protection. It will be jointly taught by renowned Chinese foreign policy scholars at Peking University and practitioners and specialists based in Beijing.
        Assessment: 100% coursework
      • POLI6023. Overseas Study at Johns Hopkins University: SAIS Programme (one course equivalent) (6 credits)

        The School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) summer program provides students from across the United States and abroad an opportunity to enrol in excellent courses taught in a condensed form. Courses offered include American foreign policy since World War II, global issues: drugs, crime and terrorism, principles and practices of conflict management, strategy and policy, international monetary theory, international trade theory. Students are required to take one SAIS course.
      • POLI6024. Overseas Study at Johns Hopkins University: SAIS Programme (two courses equivalent) (12 credits)

        The School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) summer program provides students from across the United States and abroad an opportunity to enrol in excellent courses taught in a condensed form. Courses offered include American foreign policy since World War II, global issues: drugs, crime and terrorism, principles and practices of conflict management, strategy and policy, international monetary theory, international trade theory. Students are required to take two SAIS courses.
      • POLI6030. Overseas Study at George Washington University: U.S. Foreign Policy Summer Programme (one course equivalent) (6 credits)

        This two-week intensive course examines how U.S. foreign policy is made, the history that informs it, the political culture that sustains it, and the ideas and interests that drive it. Taking full advantage of its location in downtown Washington, DC, the programme features visits to key institutions that influence American foreign policy as well as lectures by leading scholars and experts from government, think tanks, international organizations, non-profit organizations, the media, and foreign embassies. More information is at
      • POLI6034. Overseas Study at Seoul National University: Seminar on Area Studies – East Asia in the Modern World (one course equivalent) (6 credits)

        This course is intended to make students familiar with the contemporary issues related to the East Asian countries, ranging from trade disputes and soft powers to financial problems. Taking an historical approach and using key theoretical perspectives, students will learn how the East Asian region has been coping with policy challenges and how East Asian regional order has evolved into its current forms.

      Other Elective courses:

      Selected courses are offered by the following departments as electives of the MIPA programme subject to additional entry requirement: The Department of Law, the Journalism and Media Centre, the Department of Politics and Public Administration (Master of Public Administration Programme). The offering of these elective courses will be announced in appropriate timing before course enrolment. MIPA students may have to pay different fees for these elective courses.