International Relations

The Ph.D. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations is designed primarily to train those interested in scholarly careers, though individuals with such degrees may also pursue work in more applied fields.

The primary focus of the study of International Relations is the relations among states and other entities in the international arena – their external, rather than internal, relations. The kinds of questions that IR theorists ask are: What goes on in global politics? What are the main components of security, political economy, foreign policy, and international organizations? What is globalization and how does it work? What are the influences that drive states (and other actors) in the international arena to behave the ways that they do? How do material factors (power, money, resources) and ideational factors (culture, gender, religion, theories, ideologies) influence how global politics functions? What is the relationship between states and non-state actors in global politics? Between the material and the ideational? How might we understand the “international” and/or the “global” in politics, and what are the similarities and the differences?

The field of IR in general faces two broad questions and debates. First, it faces the question of whether its subject matter is “international” politics (politics between states) or “global” politics (with a broader notion of the relevant actors and factors). Second, it faces the question of whether IR is a subfield of political science, appropriately understood within the discipline’s theoretical and methodological constraints, or interdisciplinary, appropriately encompassing not only political science, but geography, sociology, anthropology, history, and media studies.

The Department of Political Science at the University of Florida offers a comprehensive education in International Relations, and a unique and challenging list of courses. The faculty is committed to ontological, epistemological, and methodological pluralism, and seeks to train students in both a broad range of theories and a broach range of methods. Whatever theoretical approaches, empirical problems, and methodological tools interest our students, we help students match the right method with their research question. Our goal is to offer a comprehensive guide to the literature addressing both sides of the questions above, making students well-versed in the work in the field not only in the US but around the world.

At UF, our IR faculty’s research interests tend to fall on the sides of these debates seeing the subject matter of IR broadly, as “global,” and seeing the pursuit of IR knowledge as interdisciplinary, availing themselves of the tools of other disciplines as well as political science in their pursuit of understanding global politics. Many of the IR faculty at UF are interested in IR theory and its ties to political theory. Many of the IR faculty are also interested in the ways that discourse, policy, and international interaction overlap. Member of the IR faculty at UF are also interested in the influence of culture, gender, and religion on both global politics broadly and traditionally-understood subfields of IR like political economy and security. We teach IR both from the “canon” of the discipline and from critical perspectives, hoping to give students a well-rounded grounding in the field.

In their first semester, IR students entering the program are required to take the introductory seminary (INR 6607, International Relations Theory), as a gateway to other seminars. INR 6607 introduces students to the major theoretical traditions that have shaped the study of IR, historically, conceptually, and as they relate and argue. In subsequent semesters, students will choose a variety of survey courses and specialized seminars. The survey courses cover the traditional areas of IR: political economy, international organizations, international security, and foreign policy. Other seminars in national security policy, culture and IR, gender and IR, ethics and IR, international environmental politics, globalization, and advanced International Relations Theory supplement and enrich information gained in these classes.

First Field Requirements

Summary of First Field Requirements (5 courses for a total of 15 credits)

  • INR 6607: International Relations Theory
  • Four seminars:
      • Two IR survey seminars
      • Two IR electives

Field Examination

Committee Selection

The examination committee typically consists of three members of the IR field. The chair of the student’s doctoral committee normally chairs the examination committee. The other two members are selected by the Chair of the IR field . In making this selection, the Field Chair considers membership in the student’s doctoral committee, faculty availability, and faculty workload equity. The Field Chair informs the student of the makeup of the examination committee once the committee’s selection is finalized.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: General question on international relations theory designed to test students’ knowledge of the literature in the field, ability to use the literature in constructing an analytically coherent argument, and ability to apply a critical perspective to the literature. The answer should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words in length, and double-spaced, excluding citations.
  • Section II: Focuses on the four sub-fields: international political economy, international security, foreign policy analysis, and international organizations. One question per sub-field will be on the exam, and students will be able to choose one among them. The answer should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words in length, and double-spaced, excluding citations.
  • Section III: The third question will relate to each student’s area of proposed dissertation research. Students must confirm this area with the International Relations Field Committee (e.g. via their advisor) at least two weeks prior to taking the exam. The answer should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words in length, and double-spaced, excluding citations.

Second Field Requirements

Summary of Second Field Requirements (3 courses for a total of 9 credits)

  • INR 6607: International Relations Theory
  • Two survey seminars

Field Examination

Committee Selection

The examination committee typically consists of three members of the IR field. To the extent that the chair (or co-chair) of the student’s doctoral committee is a member of the IR field, s/he will normally chair the examination committee. Otherwise, the Chair of the IR field selects an examination committee chair based on considerations of membership in the student’s doctoral committee, faculty availability, and faculty workload equity. The field Chair selects the other two members of the examination committee based on the same considerations. The field Chair informs the student of the makeup of the examination committee once the committee’s selection is finalized.

Examination Questions

  • Section I: General question on international relations theory designed to test students’ knowledge of the literature in the field, ability to use the literature in constructing an analytically coherent argument, and ability to apply a critical perspective to the literature. The answer should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words long, double-spaced, not including citations.
  • Section II: Focuses on the four sub-fields: international political economy, international security, foreign policy analysis, and international organization. One question per sub-field will be on the exam, and students will be able to choose one among them. The answer should be between 2,000 and 2,500 words long, double-spaced, not including citations.

Third Field Requirements

Summary of Third Field Requirements (2 courses for a total of 6 credits)

  • INR 6607: International Relations Theory
  • One survey seminar

Courses that Satisfy Field Requirements

  • INR 6607: International Relations Theory

Survey Courses:

  • INR 6039: International Political Economy
  • INR 6305: Politics of American Foreign Policy Making
  • INR 6337: Survey of International Security
  • INR 6507: International Organization

Elective Courses:

  • INR 6036: Globalization, Regionalism, and Governance
  • INR 6213: The Politics of the European Union
  • INR 6249: Inter-American Relations
  • INR 6532: International Environmental Relations
  • INR 6936: Seminar in Transnational/Global Studies
  • POS 6938: Culture and International Relations
  • POS 6933: Gender and International Relations
  • POS 6933: Ethics and IR
  • INR 6208: Advanced IR Theory