Module code: POL2034

Module Overview

The form of globalisation that has characterised the international system over the post-Cold War era, (a phenomenon that both drives and is driven by international institutions, treaties and regimes), is seemingly reducing the capacity of nation-states to respond to pressures emanating from the international economic and security environment. Economic challenges, including the recent global recession require intimate cross-border cooperation (at the regional and global level); climate change presents a threat that requires urgent global-cooperation (be it between local authorities and cities in different national contexts, or at the national level). The end of the Cold War has ushered in a host of new security challenges that states are unable to tackle on a individual basis, from preventing and dealing with the consequences of state failure, international terrorism  and crime, as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

A key question that the course will examine is the extent to which these challenges are leading to a shift away from an international system characterized by the notion of state sovereignty and the control of policy development and implementation by the central political authority of the nation-state, to a diffusion of power and competencies, both ‘horizontally’, to private actors such as NGOs and Transnational Corporations and ‘vertically’, downwards to the regional level and upwards to international organisations. The module will critically assess the analytical leverage that can be attained to these questions through the application of IR theory: realist, liberal and constructivist approaches. It will also focus on approaches drawn from political science theory, notably the literatures on multi-level governance, public policy theories, Marxism and the ‘new’ institutionalism.

In the course students will tackle a number of contemporary debates on international organisations that are central to public debate - the meaning and forms of international organisations, issues of authority, power and legitimacy; how states and non-state actors (particularly NGOs and Business) have shaped the nature and scope of international cooperation and the effects that participation in international institutions has upon policy-making, styles of governance and institutional configuration at the national and sub-national levels. We will also examine the role of hegemonic powers, in particular the impact of the United States over the post-war and post-Cold War eras and the implications of the rise of China and India upon international organisations. The module will then examine relevant case studies: environmental governance; the WTO and the governance of international trade; the IMF, World Bank and the governance of finance and development; the United Nations and security governance and will conclude by assessing the implications of the growth of international organisations for the role of the state as a national and international actor.

Module provider


Module Leader

HADFIELD Amelia (Politics)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Introduction: What are International Organisations?

  • Theorising International Organisations

  • Power, Legitimacy and Authority in International Cooperation

  • Compliance, Policy Transfer and Domestic Institutional Change

  • The Global Politics of the Environment

  • The Role of Non-State Actors in the International System: International Corporations and NGOs.

  • Global Trade: The WTO

  • Global Finance and Economic Development: The World Bank, IMF and G8

  • Global Security: The United Nations between Security Governance and Power Politics

  • The Future of International Organisations: The Retreat of the State?

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (2000 WORDS) 50
Coursework POLICY PAPER (2000 words) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

·         Their ability to choose relevant theories and apply them to various practical dimensions of international organisations

·         Their understanding of the significance of international organisations to politics, power and hegemony.

·        An appreciation of the legal, political and socio-economic dimensions of international organisations.

Thus the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Essay 1 (2000 words) – 50%

  • Policy Paper (2000 words) - 50%

Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback will be given to student presentations.

Module aims

  • Introduce students to the function of key international organisations including the WTO, IMF, World Bank, United Nations, international regime on climate change, trans-national corporations and Non-Governmental Organisations.
  • Develop students' understanding of the key forces shaping the development of international organisations and the implications of the development of international organisations for policy-making processes at the national and sub-national levels.
  • Introduce students to theoretical approaches to the development and implications of international organisations, including political science approaches such as public policy theory, Marxism and new institutionalism, in addition to international relations theories such as realism, constructivism, neo-liberal institutionalism and governance approaches.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a coherent grasp of the development and function of key international organisations including the World Bank, IMF, G8, WTO, UN, international corporations and NGOs K
002 Demonstrate the ability to use theory in their critical analysis of the development and implications of the institutionalisation of international cooperation through international organisations. KC
003 Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources. PT
004 Construct reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement. CP
005 Manage their learning self-critically. PT
006 Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing. PT
007 Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management. T
008 Use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the main theoretical lenses and conceptual debates on international organisations and apply them to a number of empirical issues. Accordingly the lectures involve theory and case studies on specific international organisations. These are followed by seminar discussions which are student led presentation which are chosen from a given set of prescribed topics. The learning strategy is to provide opportunities to apply critical lenses and theoretically informed discussion on the nature, structure and working of international organisations and their relation to international politics in general.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures 1 hour per week X 11 weeks

  • Seminars 1 hour per week X 11 weeks

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: POL2034

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
International Relations BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Public Affairs MPA 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Politics BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Business Economics BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Economics and Finance BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.