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Unit Overview


This unit enables students to understand how international orders develop historically and how they are maintained politically. It commences by outlining various ways of conceptualising international order and historical examples of international order. It then proceeds to a close examination of the international order fostered by US power in the period since the Second World War. It concludes by focusing on challenges to US dominance, the potential for a decline in American influence, and the consequences of such a decline for the international order. The unit utilises key conceptual and theoretical elements of international relations, particularly theories of hegemony and geopolitics, thereby building upon the foundations established in POLS1102 The Contemporary International System. The unit facilitates recognition and comprehension of the variety of historical forms of international order and the causes of their rise and fall, enabling students to contextualise analysis of the rise and potential decline of the contemporary international order.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) apply the concepts and theories of international relations to analysis of the sources of international authority and power; (2) describe the evolution of historical international orders, including the international order since World War I; (3) identify the forces that shape international orders, especially the factors that underpin the rise and fall of dominant states; (4) identify and describe the key features of international order in the post-World War II era; (5) give a theoretically informed account of the operation of the post-World War II international order; (6) identify and assess the challenges to the dominant international role of the USA, and make informed judgements about the impact of the potential decline of US dominance; (7) communicate information, ideas and arguments related to the field of international relations in a coherent and logical manner in both written and oral forms; (8) work effectively in a collaborative manner as a member of a tutorial group; (9) demonstrate research skills appropriate for locating and assessing relevant primary and secondary materials; (10) demonstrate practiced skills of problem analysis and critical reasoning applied to the subject matter of the field; and (11) undertake enquiry-based learning and research on topics related to the subfield.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) written work; (2) tutorial participation; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit rules
any Level 1 Political Science and International Relations unit
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours
tutorials: 9 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.