Numerous observers of international politics forecast that China will soon overtake the United States and become the world`s leading power. While China’s power is on the rise, US power is constantly declining, and a world run by China would definitely look different than the one we live in today (Jacques 2012), so the standard story goes. In his recent book “Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower” US political scientist Michael Beckley challenges this standard story of a great power transformation. Beckley sees no signs for an end of the unipolar era and US preeminence. In this reading class we will critically engage with Beckley’s argument and his recommendations for policy makers. Theoretically, the course will deepen our understanding of structural realism, including basic concepts such as power, polarity, and great power transformations. Methodically, students will learn about different ways of measuring power in the international system. Empirically, the course introduces an alternative view on one of the most fascinating questions in international politics, namely: Who will run the world? (see Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2019).


Students interested in this reading class are expected to have basic knowledge in international relations theory (i.e. you must have attended the lecture “Einführung in die Internationalen Beziehungen) and to take the weakly readings seriously. All students are responsible for being prepared to discuss the required readings in class.


Studienleistung: One short presentation on an additional reading (10 minutes) and two critical reviews of the week’s required reading.

Prüfungsleistung: Term paper as required by the applying study regulations.



Core reading:

Beckley, Michael 2018. Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower. Cornell University Press.

Kurs im HIS-LSF