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   Course Title    Contemporary Issues if International Relations
Lecturer    Laura Yerekesheva
Institution    Kazakh-American University
Country    Kazakhstan


The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the various ways of understanding contemporary international relations, to give an overview of the issues acute on the agenda of current diplomacy, international relations in general.

During the course attention will be given to the conceptual models of international relations, subjects, objects, actors of international relations, interests and tools for the achievement of goals in international politics. Thus the focus will be on states, international, transnational organizations.

After studying the theoretical basis of the course, the role and structure of the UN system, NATO, attention will be given to the analysis of the main issues standing on the global agenda – political and economic cooperation among countries after the Cold War, the European Union, European political, economic, security perspectives, Eastern Europe in transition period, challenges for Russia and CIS countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, China’s economic reforms, USA under Reagan, Bush, Clinton administration, USA and the world etc.

The problem of international conflicts, the ways of its resolution as well as nuclear weapons and disarmament questions are of an interest too.

This particular course is a very interesting one, intersecting with such subjects as political science, history, diplomacy. So there is a need to combine the knowledge of these disciplines to elaborate the special methodology of studying contemporary events taking shape nowadays.


The work for which a student will be assessed with respect to the course will comprise of the following:

  • Class attendance and class discussion – 30%

  • Mid-term exam – 20%

  • Seminars – 20%

  • Final exam – 30%


Total – 100 points

100% A+
90-99 A
85-89 A-
79-84 B+
70-78 B
65-69 B-
60-64 C+
55-59% C
52-54 C
49-51 D+
45-48 D
42-44 D-
41 & below F


1 week.

  • Syllabus issues: organization of class, class hours, explanation of grades, office hours. Introductory Lecture. International Relations subject, objects, actors, interests, levels, fields. Lecture. 2 hours

  • State, nation, national interests and balance of power. Lecture. 2 hours

2 week..

  • States and International organizations. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Cold War and its legacy. Periodizations of the Cold War period, major international events. Multipolar, bipolar, onepolar systems. Lecture.2 hours

3 week..

  • United Nations system. Historical background, structure, main fields of activity. Lecture. 2 hours

  • International organizations affiliated to UN system. Lecture. 2 hours

4 week.

  • Research writing skills. How to write a course/research paper. Necessary guidelines and outline. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Country analysis. Skills of analyzing the situation of a country, its foreign policy. Scenario-writing. Lecture.2 hours

5 week..

  • Afghan crisis: historical background, its impact on the regional and global security. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Afghan crisis, its impact on the regional security in Central Asia. Seminar. 2 hours

6 week.

  • European Union: historical background, EU structure, main issues of the EU agenda. Lecture. 2 hours

  • European Union and its enlargement. Seminar. 2 hours

7 week.

  • OSCE: from CSCE to OSCE, organizational structure, main fields of activity, institutions and bodies. Lecture. 2 hours

  • OSCE and election monitoring issues in Eastern Europe CIS. Seminar. 2 hours

8 week.

  • Mid-term exam. 2 hours.

Part 2.

9 week.

  • Collapse of the Soviet Union and challenges for Russia and CIS countries. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Russia under B.Yeltsin. Economic and political reforms. Seminar. 2 hours

10 week.

  • NATO and the main challenges standing before this organization. Lecture. 2 hours

  • NATO: Expansion to the East. Activities in Kosovo. Seminar. 2 hours

11 week

  • Interethnic relations in contemporary world. Measures on early response and conflict prevention. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Ethnic conflicts in Central Asia and China (Uigur problem). Seminar. 2 hours

12 week.

  • The USA and the World. US under Clinton administration. Presidential elections in USA. Lecture. 2 hours

  • China’s political,, economic situation, her role in the contemporary world. Lecture. 2 hours

13 week.

  • World business community. The process of globalization and information new technologies. Lecture. 2 hours

  • Analyzing the future. The world in 21 century. Lecture. 2 hours

14 week.

  • Final exam. 2 hours

List of recommended literature

  1. Brown, Michael E. (Ed.). Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict. The MIT Press, 1997.

  2. Edwards, O. The USA and the Cold War. 1997.

  3. Friedrich, C., Brzezinski, Z. Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy. NY, 1965.

  4. Kissinger, H. Diplomacy. 1991.

  5. Macridis, Roy. Modern Political Systems: Europe. NJ, 1990.

  6. Magstadt, Thomas. Nations and Governments. Comparative Politics in Regional Perspective. New York, 1994.

  7. Naik, J.A. A textbook of International Relations. New Delhi, 1995.

  8. Papp, Daniel S. Contemporary International Relations. Frameworks for Understanding. Allyn and Bacon, 1997.

  9. Roessingh, Martijn A. Ethnonationalism and Political Systems in Europe. A State of Tension. Amsterdam Unuversity Press, Amsterdam, 1996.

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