17.445 | Fall 2015 | Undergraduate, Graduate

International Relations Theory in the Cyber Age


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course for undergrads. Graduate students need the permission of the instructor.

Course Description

This course examines cyber dynamics and processes in international relations from different theoretical perspectives. It considers alternative theoretical and empirical frameworks consistent with characteristic features of cyberspace and emergent transformations at all levels of international interaction. Theories examined include realism and neorealism, institutionalism and liberalism, constructivism, and systems theory and lateral pressure. The course also highlights relevant features and proposes customized international relations theory for the cyber age.

Students taking the graduate version are expected to pursue the subject in greater depth through reading and individual research.

Course Requirements

  • Active seminar participation—critical approach to materials
  • Presentations of the arguments in the readings which allow students to select what they wish to talk about, develop slides, present these items, and get reactions
  • Mid Term essay
  • Final essay

Graduate students can substitute a research paper for the final essay.


The following books are required reading:

Buy at MIT Press Choucri, Nazli. Cyberpolitics in International Relations. MIT Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780262517690. [Preview with Google Books]

Nye, Jr., Joseph S. The Future of Power. PublicAffairs, 2011. ISBN: 9781610390699. [Preview with Google Books]

Additional readings can be found in the Readings section.

Grading Policy

Class attendance and participation 20%
Midterm (take home) 25%
Locating web based resources as inputs into the class data base 20%
Final (take home) or a research paper on topic of your choice with approval of instructor 35%


Part I: Structure And Process In International Relations

The Classics—Concepts and Contexts

First Meeting Lecture Slides (PDF - 1.3 MB)

2 International Relations—Construction of Cyberspace  
3 Cyberspace and the State System—New Challenges  
4 Globalization and Emergent Dynamics  
Part II: Theories of International Relations 
5 Power and Security—Realism and Neo-Realism  
6 Governance and Order—Institutionalism and Neo-Institutionalism  
7 Perceptions and Expression—Constructivism Midterm (take home) essay due
8 Growth and Expansion—Lateral Pressure  
9 Cyberpolitics in International Relations  
Part III: Strategic Issues
10 International Conflict and War  
11 International Cooperation and Global Agenda  
12 Contending Authority—Principles and Practice  
13 Alternative Futures—21st Century Challenges Final (take home) essay due

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2015
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights