Introduction to geopolitics

lpols1319  2020-2021  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to geopolitics
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
5 credits
30.0 h + 15.0 h
Main themes
Taking politics and geopolitics as autonomous subjects, the course examines international activity since 1815, taking into account other economic, ideological and social aspects. It takes a chronological look at key periods to examine in particular the question of international stability and how it has been maintained. Students are then taught how to use the instruments of geopolitical analysis, so that they can approach international issues in a different way from that usually adopted within traditional approaches. This involves finding answers to the following questions: What precisely is geopolitics? Where, when and how did it enter into the field of politico-academic reflection? How did it develop? Why was it not used for a long time after 1945? Why and how did geopolitical thinking undergo something of a renaissance in the last quarter of the twentieth century? How can it be used to understand international conflicts?

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 This course first introduces the study of international relations. . The course will equip students with the instruments they need for the geopolitical analysis of the international scene, which involves in particular being able to: 1. define geopolitics as a "discipline"; 2. explain how space is a factor in international relations; 3. locate geopolitics in the historical development of the international system; 4. explain and criticise pre-1945 geopolitical conceptions; 5. explain the taboo affecting post-1945 geopolitics and the reasons for its reactivation at the end of the twentieth century; 6. establish geological influences on border formation between states; 7. carry out a geopolitical analysis of an international situation; 8. use geopolitical analysis to decipher international crises and conflicts.
The continuation of the course articulates in five sequences, after a general introduction in the concept of geopolitics; - A brief reminder of the place and the importance which keeps the space as the factor of the contemporary international relations - An analysis of the concept of ground border in the international order - A summary of the history of the Geopolitics since the previous history (and especially since the sort of original sin which constitutes German Geopolitik) until the contemporary revival of the geopolitical reflection - The third part is dedicated to the historic evolution of the geopolitics before 1945. This subdivision concentrates on an analysis of the striking authors (precursors and classical authors) - The fourth part attempts to understand the resurgence and the new importance of geopolitical and presents the current geopolitical thought appeared after the caesura of 1989 - The last part is the concern the applied geopolitics and begins case studies of contemporary conflicts
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Lectures given by the teacher and readings. For some programs, addition of seminars in small groups.
Alternation of lectures with projection of visual data and sessions of discussion of readings involving a substantial personal work of the student in the analysis of the supplied documents. Importance of the cartographic support. Insertion of one or two speakers on subjects of current events, as possible
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

Evaluation: Oral or written examination depending on the programs and/or the circumstances (namely sanitary situation). There also will be a pre-test on the readings for some programs.
The teacher takes into account the different backgrounds of the students in his evaluation.
Other information
Prerequisite: Basic historical and geopolitical knowledge (from the French Revolution to the modern day) is necessary, as the course often lays emphasis on the analysis of supposedly known facts (a reading list and links established with other courses are given to address possible shortcomings)
Course materials: Readings and Syllabus available to the DUC and the Moodle web page provides additional course materials.
Within the framework of the BAC 3 in Political Science, this course goes together with the seminar on international relations. With regards to the Master in International Relations, this course provides the foundations for Theories of International Relations, international Organisations and international Negotiations.
Online resources
See Moodle and the site dedicated to the course
Voir Syllabus
Teaching materials
  • Syllabus et dossier de lectures disponible à la DUC
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Minor in Political Sciences

Additionnal module in Geography

Master [120] in Ancient Languages and Literatures: Oriental Studies

Bachelor in Political Sciences: General

Approfondissement 'Principes de maîtrise de l'actualité'