professor
Brian Murray

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Aug 2007

The class was free flowing, which made me nervous at first. However, it was nice not being so focused on what material I would be tested on. There were no objective tests when I took the class. We wrote three papers, 5-7 pages. I think he is a bit of a tough grader because he argues his points and is not afraid to critique your work. It was frustrating because I felt like I lost points because he did not agree with my opinion. However, you will get at least a B for knowing basic concepts in the readings, showing up to class for participation points, and writing a decent essay.

Sep 2006

Adjunct professor, that is a very friendly guy and will take you and your classmates out to lunch. Works on wall street, but really loves teaching. His lectures tend to ramble sometimes, but he is interesting. The reading is good, but you don't have to do it in order to do well.

Jan 2005

Brian Murray is a fantastic lecturer. Lectures are simple and clear and completely changed the way I think about the world. I highly reccomend his class. He responds to emails within hours, is always available outside of class, and highly receptive to questions-- not intimidating at all. sure he is an adjunct without the credentials of a Jervis or Snyder-type, but its intro IR so such a background is not necessary to convey the info. Brian is funny, intelligent, and knows his stuff.

Jan 2005

Brian was by far my favorite teacher of the semester! He keeps lectures interesting with his humor. He is very accessible to his students, whether it be meeting on or off campus for some extra help and direction. Although a number of readings are assigned for every class, you don't have to read all of them to do well. The paper, which is 10 pages counts as part of your final grade. It sounds hard, but you get to pick your own topic, Brian will lead you in the right direction, there are no strict guildlines as to format. You can pretty much spend most of your paper making and supporting your own argument, as opposed to other teachers who want you to cite a million other writers and make "their" argument not "yours". Getting an A- in his class was pretty easy and I would seriously suggest this class to anyone who is considering majoring in Political Science. Not only is Brian a cool guy, but the class is great and you will learn a lot!

Jan 2005

All I have to say is that whoever said they worked hard in Brian's class and got an A- did FAR more work than they needed to. I can honestly say that I never opened the coursepack or supplementary textbook and read maybe 60% of the main textbook (which, incidentally, was never covered on the exams). I too got an A-. While Brian's sense of humor and desire to get to know each of his students personally makes the lectures entertaining and enjoyable, I did not learn very much about International Politics (maybe because I never did any reading). The course is very theory-heavy, which I didn't like, and picking a good TA is CRUCIAL - I recommend Alex Scacco because she really knows her stuff. Overall, Brian's a nice guy with a genuine interest in his students but if you want to take this class to really learn a lot about International Politics, go elsewhere.

Jan 2005

I strongly disagree with those who say that Brian is not a good prof. or that he does not come prepared to class. Brian comes to each class, totally prepared. In fact, he is very organised: He plans each topic he is going to teach in the form of a paper, which also prepares us to the paper we need to write for the end of the term. He comes to each class with the plan of that topic and his class notes. Also, about the TAs bringing him down each class and knowing more than he does - seriously - you must be really dumb not to see and realize that Brian WANTS YOU to try to or do bring him down. Brian is just such a great instructor and teacher that he is not one of those stereotype, inferiority complexed teachers who are so biased and narrow minded that they can't hear what the students or TAs have to say, who can't even handle opening up to or hearing different ideas than what they believe in. Also, Brian's sense of humor and extraordinarily fun character makes the class extra-fun! Nobody can beat Brian into making the class fun. Although the class is 150 people, Brian spends time to get to know everyone that u feel like the class is only 20 people because it gets individual. You are not just a person in that crowd. And that's why, although Into to Int. Poli. was my only 150 people class that I could skip, the class was so fun and so interesting that I just didn't want to skip it - not even one lecture! Brian is the best thing that can happen to you @ Columbia. P.S. he is always there to help you outside class - he is even there for you to meet you and a little group from class around Wall Street ;)

Jan 2005

if you want a fun atmopshere and super laid back lecture class where you kinda learn a loose skeletal frame of international politics, you might like this class. However, if you want a solid, indepth understanding of IR-- i would NOT reccommend this class to you. Brian is a really nice guy, but his lectures are so scattered, unorganized and lacking depth. They are completely void of context so it is very difficult to form a complete understanding of the history and relevance of IR theory. I took this class to genuinely learn about IR theory and was disappointed by the spotiness and loopiness of the lectures its up to you whether or not you want to take this class- as you can see, some love him (most of them are probably freshmen), but if you really want to learn IR theory, you might want to try another class... I wish I would have...

Jan 2005

This class is easy. Murray quite plainly is not prepared to teach this course. First, he consistently cites facts that are incorrect. After making his argument, which is almost always a sophomoric piggy back onto a theorist he just tried to explain, the TAs routinely shoot him down and pick apart his argument to the point where he admits that his logic was just wrong. He also conducts class with a third grade audience in mind, asking "Who can name a country in the Middle East?", and proceeding to call on students until at least ten answers come forth. Hey, just because he never graduated from primary school doesn't mean we didn't.

Dec 2004

Brian is a pretty solid teacher with the exception of a few really aggrivating tendencies. Firstly, i know he is reading this Culpa because he constantly likes to point out the inaccuracies of other Culpa reviews during class. Secondly, the whole deal with his Chinese, though he plays it down in the first few sections, gets extremely aggrivating. A lot of people, though they knew the correct answer on the midterm and final, got confused by the chinese symbols and guessed wrong, losing credit for the question. Aside from these beefs, Murray's lectures are entertaining (though they get quite sloppy and progressively uninteresting as the semester drags on). The guy really knows his stuff and does a pretty good job of helping the students along. On the whole, a solid class which I would reccomend taking if you aren't obsessed with having Jervis. Peace out, Brian

Dec 2004

Brian's IR class is an experience. While he is not the most organized of professors, he is an funny and engaging lecturer, to such an extent that I actually went to class even though it was at 6 pm. He is funny and does make you learn a few chinese characters but then they do make for easy mutiple choice answers on the exams. While he does make his opinions known, he presents the existing theories pretty fairly. Grading makes very little sense until the end but it is pretty fair. Overall he is definitly a professor who is worth getting to know.

Dec 2004

A great teacher, hands down. He can (and DOES) take a class of 150 and makes it seem like a class of 15. He's really funny (or at least tries to be) and knows how to perfectly intertwine current events with the political theories disussed in the lectures. The downside: his lectures get increasingly sloppy. This isn't to say that they're not thorough, because they are very complete, it's just that his order of presentation is pretty scattered, and his notes become more and more incoherent. This begins to show AFTER the midterm though. I highly recommend taking Brian's IR course. He's a great adjunct professor, super accessible (including taking students out for drinks!), responds to emails within 24 hours, knows his material and is on top of the game. Note-taking eventually becomes a hassle, but eh, it's worth it.

Dec 2004

Brian is fun guy, but he is a horrible teacher that does not know the material well. I found the TAs to be far more knowledgeable than him on every topic not related to China. If you have a question, you should probably ask one of the TAs because if Brian does not know the answer to your question, he might make up a response rather than admit his ignorance. Worst of all, his motivation for encouraging students to talk in class is to buy them a tequila shot at the end for every “intelligent” comment they make (and to take one away from their total if they said something stupid). This led to some of the most sycophantic students I have ever seen. It was sickening.

Dec 2004

Brian is a great teacher. I am in my first semester here, and I found his class reasonable and much fun. Brian is a really good guy with many great stories. His class is challenging but fair and very practical. His class has an empirical element that is hard to find here. Lectures are always engaging. He has an excellent teaching style and a good sense of humor. Sometimes he expects people to know a bit too much history, but as someone who knows hardly any historical facts, it is manageable. Brian's most admirable trait is his effort to connect with the students. Even though there were over 130 kids in the class, he knew almost everyoneÂ’s name by the end of the semester. He is very available, even though he has a day job and is just an overall nice guy to talk with. He also grades all the papers himself. His grading system is a bit tough. His curve is set at a B/B+, which would be fine, but I think the majority of kids in the class put in an A- effort and do as well on the tests. Plus, the midterm, which was graded by TAs was incredibly inconsistent as it was on a 15 point scale with 13 being a B/B+. Some TAs gave a 14 as their best, and others gave the same as their worst. On the other hand, Brian grades all of the final papers himself, an enormous and notable effort. His only major fault, and Brian, I know you are reading this, is that he is obsessed with CULPA. Don't worry! You are a good teacher! Although Brian is not one of the tenured old-timer realists like Jervis (who also teaches this course), he is a really good teacher. Definitely take his class.

Dec 2004

Brian is a good teacher and a great guy. His teaching style is such that he tends to ramble and gets off topic often and easily, but he has interesting things to say and I genuinely enjoyed his lectures. He assigns a lot of reading but you only have to do it if you want to (some of it is actually very interesting so you'd probably want to). Brian is an extremely nice guy who goes out of his way to be available to students and help them if they need it. I had three finals scheduled for one day, so he let me take his early at his office on wall street. He has a cool job in the field of international relations and knows a lot about what's going on in the world. I learned a lot from his class, but learned more from having lunch with him outside of class and talking about random stuff happening in the world. I wish he taught more advanced int'l relations classes.

Dec 2004

A good guy, great because he has a real job and a life and he's really funny. Class was fun and engaging Moderately difficult - not out to get you Is almost always available through email and tried to meet with his students outside of class As a lecturer - mumbled a little and couldn't read his handwriting on the board but he is switching to powerpoints so that shouldn't be a problem and any questions he welcomes and answers was a pleasurable class

Dec 2004

If he understood what he was teaching, the class would be really good. Readings are interesting, but don't go to the class if you still want to understand the readings after doing them. Although a nice guy, Brian struggles to convey the material to the class, and often acknowledges the fact that he left the class clueless. One lecture he relied on a TA to teach the material, and that was the best lecture of the semester. And don't get me started on the Chinese characters...

Dec 2004

Take this class. Brian is magic. Sure sometimes he gets a tad confused in his lectures but they're mostly interesting. Plus, the class is cake easy. One midterm, a final without an essay and a ten page paper on the topic of your choice. Brian is extremely nice and friendly and a great teacher. Embrace this class!

Dec 2004

Oh my! Brian is awesome! Somewhat biased, but cool about it. Funny lectures, he always tried to make some pop culture relationship. Often met with students outside of class, great guy and very intelligent. He is always trying to improve his teaching skills. If only I could have Brian for all of my Political Science classes.

Nov 2004

A pretty good class. Brian is a very nice guy, and NO ONE can complain about having to recognize 3 or four simple Chinese characters! The lectures are interesting, but a little weak on detail and explanation.

Nov 2004

He is the coolest professor a person can ever get!!! Seriously - Don't write something bad about him on Culpa just cuz u personally can't handle him. The class is fun -thanks to him- even if you need to learn some fundemental Chinese letters.

Aug 2004

Intro to international relations was probably one of the best classes that I have taken at Columbia. This was due largely in part to the incomparable Brian Murray. He is truly one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. The subject matter is somewhat dull at times, however, the "B -dawg" understands this and tries to make it as interesting as possible. Also, he is very approachable during and after class and is willing to give you advice and insight on the material. Some reviews said that he went off on tangents which is true. However, these tangents are an amusing break from the material and do not go on endlessly with no point. He encourages class particpation but if you are one of those "know-it-all/won't let anyone talk/think you're god's gift to international relations" kind of people your participation grade will suffer. As long as you do the reading and make an effort in class you will get a good grade and enjoy your first International relations experience. P.S. Anyone who says Brian Murray rewards slackers is crazy and just bitter because, unlike some of the cooler kids in the class, he did not think of bringing a six pack to the review session and mixing school with pleasure.

Aug 2004

Brian Murray was one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. I apologize to everyone who can't believe that, because of the fact that Brian occassionally uses a short hand to explain his theories. Not only was the class material presented in a clear, understandable way, but Brian was also very available outside of class to discuss the material. It involved a free lunch or dinner. Many reviewers complained about the grading system in this class, personally I didn't think this was a big issue. Just go to class, do the readings, and don't try to teach the class to show off how intelligent you are. Brian Murray overall was a fantastic teacher, and in my opinion he gets a bad rap on CULPA because the 2 or so students who disagreed with his theory/teaching style decided to post terrible reviews. In my class this summer, I would say 90 percent of the class thought that he was a better than average teacher. I recommend the class highly.

Jul 2004

Overall, I highly recommend taking this class with another professor if you are looking to receive an A in the class. Read the other reviews if you are curious of what students do not like or like about him. They are pretty accurate besides for the newest one. I only wish to talk about his grading system, which has major problems because he does not grade on scale. Instead, he averages all the grades together and makes the class average equal to a B+. An A- is one standard deviation above the average, an A is two standard deviations above the average, a B is one standard deviation below the average, and a B- is two standard deviations below the average. The problem with this is that the chances of a person achieving a grade 2 standard deviations above or below the average is incredibly small in a class with about 15 people of similar intelligence. This means one can work their ass off and still not achieve an A or one can do a half- ass job and still receive nothing lower than a B. If you do not really care about obtaining an A, then you will not have any issues with the grading, but this is not really fair for people that work hard and know a lot. In addition, Brian bases 20% of the grade on participation. However, he grades down for talking too much, which basically makes 20% of your grade based on how much Brian likes you. In conclusion, even if you know everything there is to know about political science, you will have no chance of receiving an A unless Brian really favors you. If you are slacker though, this is fun summer class to take.

Jun 2004

I truly disagree w/ some of the other reviews. Professor Brian Murray is a great professor. I understood his lectures and when people looked confused he would go over the material until it was understood. And I would not knock the chinese characters b/c they can actually help you in your short hand during lectures. I have adopted his characters for lectures that discuss systems and so forth. Additionally, this summer session course is more like a seminar than a lecture--I believe there were only a/b ten students in our class. Highly recommended, just do the readings and you'll be fine!

Dec 2002

The second review is more accurate. He constantly goes off on tangents and manages to find time to show off how much sh-- he knows about chinese letters and culture. The class is pretty interesting considering it is about 3 hours from 6-9 PM. He definitely dictates his opinions in class and always manages to blame someone. "Brazil is responsible for bankrupting Argentina, Israel is responsible for violating international laws, and the English are always wrong!!!" (He is Irish)

Jul 2002

Don't waste your time with this instructor if you are a political science major. He wastes so much time trying to show off his knowledge of the Chinese language. Not only that, but he expects you to learn some of the characters for his quizzes. He is a really tough grader also.

Apr 2001

A really great professor. He's an adjunct professor that only teaches Intro IR in the summer and works full time for AIG. A very cool, very nice guy who is more than willing to meet with students. This intro class is typically so small it feels like a seminar. The reading is light and interesting. He's also really thorough when giving specific advice on papers. A really terrific prof.