The course begins by establishing a rigorous theoretical and methodological foundation to equip students with the fundamental toolkit in the study of comparative politics and international relations. We then apply and expand on this toolkit by studying seven substantive topics.
- State and nation building: We discuss Tilly’s (1985) famous argument that war helped build states in Europe and contrast state building in early modern Europe with state building in Latin America. The course then investigates contemporary state building and, in particular, assesses whether states form nations or vice versa.
- The character of war: Students analyse characteristics of traditional and contemporary warfare and assess its implications for international humanitarian law.
- Colonialism and decolonisation: We then analyse the effects of different factors associated with colonialism on a country’s long-term trajectory and derive a set of recommendations for international development.
- Autocracies and democratisation: Students will learn to systematically assess the relevance of different factors associated with regime stability and regime change. Why do some countries democratise, while others remain authoritarian? Why are some authoritarian regimes more enduring than others?
- Democratisation and hybrid regimes: The course also trains students to evaluate why some countries persist as hybrid regimes which are neither democratic nor authoritarian.
- International Security
- International Political Economy. Students will learn about the actors, causes and spread of terrorism and assess current counterterrorism regimes. They will also become familiar with the characteristics and mechanisms of international trade and the international monetary system. By investigating the origins of poverty, students will debate whether international development aid helps or undermines a country’s development.
The course ends with a role play of a G-20 summit on a current challenge in global affairs. Each session combines rigorous academic training with empirical case work and data analysis. It thus establishes a valuable foundation for university studies. By training students to apply academic skills to well-defined political problems, the course also prepares students for a career in political consultancy and policy development.
The table below gives an indication of the subject areas that will be covered in each day’s lecture and seminar. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, please note that topics and timings may be subject to change. Regarding topics, our teachers retain the flexibility to adapt to the academic interests of the students in the class, in order for the members of the class to benefit from their broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in the field.
|Week||Day||Lesson Number||Topic Covered|
|Week One||Sunday||Arrival Day – no classes|
|Monday||1||Introductions to the Study of Politics|
|Monday||2||Inference in Comparative Politics|
|Tuesday||1||Realism vs. Constructivism|
|Tuesday||2||Liberalism vs. Institutionalism|
|Wednesday||1||Does War Build States?|
|Wednesday||2||Do States Form Nations or Vice Versa?|
|Thursday||1||Traditional Warfare and Humanitarian Law|
|Thursday||2||Contemporary Warfare and State Failure|
|Week Two||Sunday||No classes|
|Monday||1||Authoritarian Rule and Endurance|
|Monday||2||Economic Theories of Democratisation|
|Tuesday||1||Historical, Cultural and International Factors in Democratization|
|Thursday||1||International trade and monetary systems|
|Thursday||2||Poverty and International Development|
|Friday||1||G-20 role play|
Why take this course?
Designed for gap year students, university undergraduates and recent graduates, our Politics and International Relations course will strengthen your knowledge of current affairs and help you get more out of watching the news, whether or not you’re planning to pursue these subjects further. The course will provide an excellent grounding for gap year students, while other students will find it a thought-provoking academic experience that will develop an informed perspective on world politics and events.
Every summer, ORA welcomes hundreds of the world’s brightest, most academically gifted students to our Oxford courses. Our campuses always feature a diverse mix of nationalities and genders. Students will have extensive opportunities to make connections and friends who will last into later professional life.
Timetable for students aged 19 to 25
Our Teaching Faculty
At Oxford Royale Academy we are committed to providing our students with the most qualified and high-calibre teaching available. All Oxford Royale Academy teachers are passionate about their subject, and are looking forward to passing their knowledge on to their students this summer! For full details of last summer’s teaching faculty, please click here
Guest Lectures and Debates
At ORA, we go the extra mile to enhance the study abroad experience of our students. As part of this, every year our dedicated Events Team organises a series of fascinating guest lectures. Last year these took place in the Examination Schools of the University of Oxford, allowing ORA students to experience a lecture in the same environment as a University student. Guest speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds and specialisms, including the worlds of online media, television and academia. Our students also have the opportunity to watch and participate in a number of debates, which take place on campus. These range from formal Panel Debates to informal discussions about current ‘hot topics’.
The United Kingdom has a rich cultural heritage, and a course with Oxford Royale Academy is the perfect way for a student to explore this. All ORA courses include cultural excursions to places of historical and social significance in the UK. On the Politics and International Relations programme, attendees will be taken to two such destinations. Last summer’s excursions included visits to Blenheim Palace and London.
The following texts are recommended as pre-reading for this course. Those texts listed in bold print are useful introductions.
Anderson, B. 1983. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.
Baylis, J., P. Owens, and S. Smith. 2001 (eds.). The Globalization of World Politics. An introduction to International Relations. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Capoccia, G. and Ziblatt, D. 2010. ‘The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies: A New Research Agenda for Europe and Beyond’ Comparative Political Studies August/September, 43, 931-968.
Clark, R., M. Golder, and S. Golder (eds.). 2013. Principles of Comparative Politics. Washington: CQ Press.
Herbst, J. 2001. States and Power in Africa. Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton: Princeton UP.
Kalyvas, S. 2001. ‘New and Old Civil Wars. A valid distinction?’ World Politics, 54(1): 99-118.
Kalyvas, S., I. Shapiro, and T. Massoud (eds.). 2008. Order, Conflict, and Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Lawrence, A. 2013. Imperial Rule and the Politics of Nationalism. Anti-colonial protest in the French empire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Levitsky, S., and L. Way. 2010. Competitive Authoritarianism. Hybrid regimes after the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Lipset, S. 1960. Political Man. The social bases of politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.
Ravenhill, J. (ed). 2011. Global Political Economy. (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
As well as learning lots, you’ll have plenty of time to relax while you’re here with us at Oxford Royale Academy. You’ll get the chance to explore Oxford, where you can even have a go at punting – a quintessential Oxford pastime. Further afield, day trips might include London or Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, while evening activities range from film nights to board games to salsa dancing lessons. At the end of the course, a special graduation ceremony and dinner celebrate your achievements during your time in Oxford.
Some past afternoon activities enjoyed by our students include the following:
- Punting: travel the waterways of the River Cherwell in a flat-bottomed boat, using a five-metre-long pole to propel your vessel! This mode of transport is unique to Oxford and Cambridge.
- Summer sports: have you ever played the traditional English game of croquet? There will be the chance to do so on the lawns of your campus! Real tennis (a variation of tennis played indoors, with a heavier ball) has also been enjoyed by our previous students.
- College and museum tours: An ORA course is the perfect opportunity to visit some of the University of Oxford’s most famous Colleges (including New College, Magdalen College and Christ Church). You will also have the chance to visit Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum – famous for being the world’s first university museum.
- Dance and music workshops: have you ever wanted to try Indian dance? How about Salsa dancing? Or drumming? Experts in these art forms will be dropping in to our campuses to run workshops, allowing our students to unleash their creative sides.
The events and entertainment on offer don’t stop when the sun starts to go down at our campuses! The following will be available to every student on this programme:
- Outdoor theatre: many Oxford Colleges put on Shakespeare plays in their quads and gardens throughout the summer months.
- Karaoke in Oxford: head to a venue in Oxford and sing along to the latest hits.
- Themed parties at local hotels and country houses: head to a local venue and enjoy dinner and dancing with your friends from around the world; past venues include Ardington House in Oxfordshire and The Randolph Hotel in the city of Oxford. Every party has a theme: Hollywood, Venetian Masquerade and The Olympics are examples of past themes.
- Graduation: a formal graduation ceremony will be held on the last night of your course. This is followed by your Graduation dinner and party — a glamorous conclusion to your stay in Oxford!
The Politics and International Relations course for ages 19-25 is residential in colleges of the University of Oxford, enabling students to immerse themselves in the environment and atmosphere of one of the best universities in the world. Students on this programme will stay in Merton College, a secluded haven in the city centre. The college has a strong claim to be the oldest of all the colleges of the University of Oxford, and our summer courses for ages 19-25 are designed with the academic nature of their setting in mind. In addition to their studies, participants will have plenty of free time to enjoy independent exploration of the inspirational city of Oxford, and to conduct their own research in Oxford’s libraries.
Our summer courses offer our students the complete study abroad experience. The grid below describes everything that is included with an ORA adult course:
- Over 15 taught hours per week
- Study files and materials
- Guest lectures from academic speakers
- Access to Oxford’s famous Bodleian Library
- Course certificate after graduation
- Wide selection of optional afternoon and evening activities
- 2 coach excursions per course
- Welcome and graduation events (+1s invited)
- Discounts at shops around Oxford
- Accommodation in the University of Oxford
- City centre location
- Free WiFi (subject to availability)
- Free time outside of classes
- Private Medical / Travel insurance
- Graduation Ball
- Conversation Cafe
- A formal dinner at an exclusive Oxfordshire culinary destination
- After-hours event at Oxford’s Ashmolean museum.
- ORA memorabilia
The safety and security of our students is ORA’s top priority. All of the centres at which our courses run are safe, secure environments, which are perfect for our students. Each centre is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a team of Porters. In addition, Oxford Royale Academy’s comprehensively trained team of campus staff are always on hand. If you join us this summer, you will see the following members of staff on your campus:
Some classes on the Politics and International Relations course will take place in College; others are held at nearby venues in the city.
Most students who come to ORA will have to book a flight to the UK. ORA courses do not include flights. Information on the best time to arrive will be on your course confirmation email and in your Welcome Pack.
Arrival / Departure Transfers
ORA offers coach transfers between all of our Oxford campuses and London Heathrow airport, for a small extra charge. We are also able to arrange taxi transfers from all other airports and destinations, again at an extra charge. For more information, please click here.
Every year, ORA offers a number of scholarships to talented students from around the world. If you would like to read more about the financial aid we can offer, please click here.
Welcome Reception and Graduation
Family are welcome to attend these events at the start and end of their student’s course. For more information, please contact our Registrations Department on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical and Dietary Information
All students who enrol are required to complete our Medical and Dietary Information form. A link will be emailed to all students once their enrolment is confirmed.
Eligibility and Pre-requisites
Students on the Politics and International Relations programme:
- Must conform to our Age Policy.
- Must be fluent or near-fluent English language speakers – if you are unsure whether your English level is suitable for this programme, please contact our Registrations Team on email@example.com and they will be able to assist you.
- Must be able to fulfil the basic requirements of the programme, in terms of attendance at lessons, meals and events. Please contact our Registrations Team for more detailed information.
Dates, Fees and Locations
|Course Length||Course Dates||Course Fees||Location|
|2 weeks||2 Jul – 15 Jul||4,295 GBP||Merton College|
How to Apply
If you are ready to apply now, the quickest and easiest way to secure your place on the Politics and International Relations programme for 2017 is online. You will need full details of the student and, if different, the customer responsible for paying the fees, as well as a valid credit or debit card to submit the deposit payment of GBP 795.00 (we regret that we are not able to accept American Express as a form of payment).
To get started, please click the link below – you will be asked to choose the date that you would like to study the course.
If you prefer, you can complete our paper application form, which is available for download by clicking here. You can then return this to our offices by one of the following methods:
- Scan and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax to +44 (0) 845 130 01 22
- Post to the address below
For enrolments via the paper application form, we are able to accept the GBP 795.00 course deposit by credit or debit card, bank transfer or cheque. Please see the form for full details.