Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Higher School of Economics

Introduction to Contemporary Geopolitics

Higher School of Economics via Coursera


Geopolitics is all around us, it happens every day. The course shows the connection between geography and international relations, the origins of geopolitical concepts and ideas, how countries view the world around them, why their views are different and how space and distance determine economic ties and security concerns. Students, employees of public and private companies involved in international activity, as well as simply curious people can find this course basic, but interesting and useful.
This course introduces geopolitics – one of the ways to interpret and explain international relations in the modern world. To do this, you will study the origins of this discipline, as well as its concepts that determined foreign policy decisions in the XX century. After that, we will look at the most recent versions of geopolitics and how some of them can be used for critical analysis. The main goal of the course is to understand the geopolitical approach to international relations and learn how to use it to explain and predict events taking place at the regional or global level. This includes studying theories, using them for case studies, passing tests to assess knowledge and correct understanding of the geopolitical approach. The course has no prerequisites, though it is desirable that the listeners have an interest in international politics, know the world map well and the changes that took place there in the XX century. The course "Political Geography and the Modern World", which is held at the HSE before studying Modern Geopolitics and which was created to prepare students for the study of theories of international relations, can help you with this.
The course is for:
• Those who are interested in international relations
• Students in Politics, Regional Studies and Social Sciences
• Those who want to find links and causalities between geography and international politics
• Students who like history and who want to know the nature of major international events in the XX century
• Those who prefer online format and a quick and basic explanation of international processes
• For everyone who wants to know about the world around us
The course consists of short video lectures from 6 to 11 minutes, in which invaluable questions are included. An estimated test of 10-15 questions will take place every week. In the end of the online course there is a final exam in the form of test. The course allows you to interpret international events in different ways, evaluate and predict them from perspective of different geopolitical approaches.


  • The Birth of Geopolitics
    • This module explores the origins of the geopolitical tradition, introducing the key traditional concepts and definitions and their relations to international relations studies. The essential formulations and theories developed by the scholarship working in these traditions will provide an overview of how different factors combine to constitute the realm of international politics.
  • The Beginning of the Cold War Geopolitics
    • This module looks at the geopolitics of the Cold War, analysing classical geopolitical concepts and locating them in the context of the bipolar confrontation. The module will explain the nature of historical circumstances, which defined the US-Soviet relations during the second part of the 20th century, and then apply classical geopolitical concepts to analyse the essence of the Cold War political order. It is expected that the module will encourage students to closely examine both the historical and geopolitical context of the Cold War to define the role of geopolitics in the global political realm.
  • World Politics After the Cold War Ended
    • Following the end of the Cold War, a new array of geopolitical scholarship rose into prominence, which ultimately challenged the traditional considerations in the field of geopolitical studies. Although those theories still reflect the presence of geopolitical logic in international relations, this module intends to illuminate the principal difference between the traditional and contemporary approaches in geopolitical analysis.
  • One More Thing about Geopolitics
    • This module engages with a vast critique of traditional geopolitical studies. A focus on critical geopolitics addresses contemporary debates related to the ever-existing questions and ambiguities in the realm of international politics. By invoking a critical strand on the geopolitical tradition, this module will introduce a wider range of theories and concepts incorporated in the discipline of geopolitics.
  • The Key Players in Contemporary Geopolitics
    • This module will elucidate the currently observed developments in the international realm and explore how an extended range of new concerns and factors in the global political realm could be assessed using traditional and contemporary geopolitical formulations. The module will explain the nature of the newly emergent issues and their impact on the relationship between the major political actors, giving students a chance to look at the current political patterns and dynamics through the lens of geopolitical analysis.
  • History and Geography of the United States
    • This module explores one of the three case-studies eliminated illuminated in the course. Analysing key theoretical formulations in the context of a region, the module unravels geopolitical motives behind a number of significant events in the history of the United States.
  • History and Geography of Russia
    • This module is devoted to the second equally important country, whose historical developments and transformations could be explained by employing classical geopolitical formulations. The module will provide an overview of historical and political circumstances, which laid the foundation of Russian geopolitics.
  • History and Geography of China
    • As China seems to be emerging as the new global power, it is essential to understand the logic behind its recent ascendance in the global arena. This module observes how geopolitical considerations contributed to shaping both the historical background and modern political objectives of the Chinese state.
  • Geopolitics and its Value
    • The last module of the course will provide an overview of the previously studied concepts and theories, students with an opportunity to revise and draw together what they have covered in the course. It is anticipated that students will be able to apply the major geopolitical formulations covered over the previous weeks to their subsequent study of international relations.

Taught by

Andrei Skriba


4.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Introduction to Contemporary Geopolitics

  • Jordan Simmons completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Good class,very informative but no writing assignments or graded tests (that can be a plus or a minus depending how you see it)

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.