Syllabus for Political Science 251

Introduction to International Politics

Tues, Thurs., 9:30-10:50 pm, MacKay 117

Fall 2006, Iowa State University

Christopher L. Ball, Lecturer

Dept. of Political Science

Office Hours: Tu. 2:10-4:10 pm & by appt.

517 Ross Hall

Phone: 515.294.4652


This course examines the political, economic, and ideological factors that shape international politics. The course focuses on relations among sovereign territorial states, but will also study other actors and structures that affect these relations. The course approaches international relations in a historical and theoretical perspective. Scholars of international relations disagree – sometimes quite heatedly – about the best explanations for the patterns of conflict and cooperation among states. This course will introduce you to the central debates and their implications for various historical and contemporary issues.


All students must do the assigned reading. I reserve the right to distribute unannounced in-class quizzes on the assigned readings for the week. In addition to course readings, students should follow current events. The New York Times, The Washington Post or National Public Radio (NPR) news broadcasts (on WOI 640 AM and KTPR 91.1 FM) are excellent daily news sources. I will also post items on the course website.


The main course website is at this URL:  <>. I will post slides displayed in class, relevant links, and information about the course. There is a WebCT site as well. This will be used to post assigned articles, host a discussion forum, and post grades.


Class Participation: All students should be prepared to participate in class discussions. I will call on students in class by name on a rotating basis. Responses to these questions count toward class participation. Participation is worth 10% of the course grade. Participation in the WebCT discussion forum counts toward your participation too.


Each student has a D as his or her default grade. If students participate well, their grades will be increased. Students who fail to participate or who do so poorly will get a D. Students are not expected to perform Periclean orations, but everyone should be prepared to discuss the assigned readings, current events, and question that I pose. Criticisms of points made in readings, by fellow students, and by yours truly are welcome, and debates may emerge among students. Students should respect their classmates’ contributions, and refrain from partisan or parochial philippics. The purpose of these discussions is not to win imaginary debating points, but to learn beyond solitary reading and unexamined listening.


In-Class Quizzes:  There will be 10 in-class short-answer quizzes. Students will be graded on the top 8 quizzes, so each is worth 6.25%, or 50% of the course grade. This scoring system permits students to miss two quizzes without any grade penalty. The quizzes are on most Thursday’s; the dates are noted below. They will take 20 minutes.


Final Exam: A cumulative final exam is worth 40% of the course grade. It will be a longer version of the quizzes.

Penalties: Students must sit for 8 of the 10 scheduled tests and the final exam. No one may make-up a quiz or exam at will. There are two exceptions. First, for personal emergencies (e.g., a death in the family, medical problems), students should obtain a note from the dean of students or their physician. Second, for students with extra-curricular activities that conflict with deadlines, arrangements for an alternate date and time must be made at least a week in advance. The student must provide verification of the activity in order to be eligible for an alternate date. I do not accept notification after the fact (e.g., “I didn’t turn in my paper last week because I had a match/concert”). Under either of these conditions, students can make up the quiz or exam, provided that, in the case of the quiz, the student has already been absent from one of the two “excess” quizzes (e.g., if Zed has a match on a quiz date and has already skipped one quiz, Zed can make up the missed quiz; if Alpha has a match on a quiz date and has not skipped a quiz, Alpha cannot make it up). 

Grade Components

The final grade will be calculated as follows:

·        Participation: 10%

·        In-class Quizzes: 50%

·        Final Exam: 40%


Each component will be assigned a letter grade, converted to a grade point, and multiplied by its percentage weighting. I do not accept make-up assignments, re-writing of papers, or extra-credit work.

Academic Honesty

Iowa State University regulations regarding academic honesty will be enforced. See Iowa State University Catalog, “Academic Dishonesty,” p.38-39. The penalty for plagiarism or cheating on

exams is failure for the course.


ISU advises: “If a student has a disability that qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Disability Resources (DR) office for information on appropriate policies and procedures. DR is located on the main floor of the Student Services Building, Room 1076; their phone is 515-294-6624.” 


There are three books for purchase at the University bookstore and on reserve at Parks Library. Other articles will be posted to WebCT or the course website.


Lauren, Paul Gordon, et al. Force and Statecraft: Diplomatic Challenges of Our Time. 4th ed, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


Mingst, Karen A. Essentials of International Relations. 3rd ed, New York: Norton, 2004.


Sagan, Scott Douglas and Kenneth N. Waltz. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed: With New Sections on India and Pakistan, Terrorism, and Missile Defense. 2nd ed., New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2003.



9 & 11 Jan.


Mingst, chap.1 & 2 (to p.28)

Lauren, et al., chap.1 & 7


16 & 18 Jan. (Quiz #1)

Theoretical Approaches

Mingst, chap. 3

Hobbes, Rousseau, & Kant excerpts at


23 & 25 Jan.

IR as a Series of Systems

Mingst, chap. 2 (p.28-38) & 4

Lauren, et al., chap.2-3


30 Jan. & 1 Feb. (Quiz #2)

The Cold War

Mingst, chap. 2 (38 to end)

Lauren et al., chap. 4-5


6 & 8 Feb.

The Post-Cold War System

Lauren, et al., chap. 6

Aaron L. Friedberg, “The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?”  International Security 30:2 (Fall 2005) WebCT


13 & 15  Feb. (Quiz #3)

The Sovereign Territorial State

Mingst, chap. 5

Christopher Clapham, “The Challenge to the State in a Globalized World,” Development and Change 33:5 (Nov. 2002) WebCT

20 & 22 Feb. (Quiz #4)

International Institutions

Mingst, chap. 6 & 9 (p.256-269)

27 Feb. & 1 Mar (Quiz #5)

Psychological Approaches

Mingst, chap.6

Lauren, et al., chap. 11


6 & 8 Mar. (Quiz #6)

Law & Diplomacy

Mingst, chap. 7

Lauren, et al., chap. 8


Spring Break


20 & 22 Mar. (Quiz #7)

Force & War I

Mingst, chap. 8

“Melian Dialogue” at

27 & 29 Mar. (Quiz #8)

Force & War II

Lauren, et al., chap. 9 & 10


3 & 5 Apr.

Nuclear Strategy & Proliferation I

Sagan & Waltz, 1-2

10 & 12 Apr. (Quiz #9)

Nuclear Strategy & Proliferation II

Sagan & Waltz, 3-5


17 & 19 Apr. (Quiz #10)

International Political Economy

Mingst, chap.9 & 10


24 & 26 Apr.


Lauren, et al., conclusion