Write 820 words on the following question: ʻWhat is the most interesting thing Iʼve learned about International Relations over the past four weeks?ʼ
For example, you might have been particularly surprised by and interested in a new empirical insight. For example: ‘I knew that the world had become a lot richer over the past few decades, but I hadn’t realised that global economic inequality had increased so significantly at the same time’. Or your interest may have been piqued by a particular theory or concept: ‘The End of History concept is something I found really interesting. It provides an almost utopian view of how international politics will evolve in the wake of the Cold War, something that has been heavily criticised by several other scholars’.
Once you have identified what interested you most (empirically or conceptually/ theoretically) about the weekʼs topic, you are required to demonstrate your understanding of the issue/concept, drawing on material presented in the lectures and found in the set readings. It is important to demonstrate engagement with at least one of the theories/concepts addressed in the week you choose, even if you start with an empirical puzzle (for example, if you were surprised by the extent of East Asia’s economic and social transformation, you might then talk about which theory/concept you found most helpful in making sense of the East Asian experience). You will also need to state in your journal which of the course learning outcomes you feel this assignment has best helped you reach, for example, you might suggest that this assessment task has helped you to realise the first course learning outcome (Distinguish between the major theoretical perspectives of International Relations and what they have to say about ʻcontinuityʼ and ʻchangeʼ in the post Cold-War period).
Remember, this is a learning journal, not an essay or a critical review. You need to engage with the material in the lectures and readings for the topic that you choose, but your focus should be on reflecting on the process of your learning for that topic. The guiding questions you should consider include, as mentioned, ‘what is the most interesting thing that I learned’?, but also ‘how did the readings or lecture assist with my learning’?, ‘what gaps, if any, remain in my understanding of the topic and the concepts and issues covered within it’?, etc.