Module code: POL2034

Module provider


Module Leader

COOKE SA Dr (Politics)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (2000 WORDS) 40%
Coursework ESSAY (3000 WORDS) 60%

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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 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
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
Demonstrate the ability to use theory in their critical analysis of the development and implications of the institutionalisation of international cooperation through international organisations.
Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources.
Construct reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement.
Manage their learning self-critically.
Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing.
Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management.
Use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information.

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

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?

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

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

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

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


Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback will be given to student presentations.

Written feedback will be given for both essays.

Reading list


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 2017/8 academic year.