Department of Political Science


POLS0026 International Organisations

Course Code: POLS0026

Course Tutor: TBC

Length: One term (Spring Term)

Teaching: 20 contact hours

Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)

Credits: 15 credits, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS)

Level: Level 6 (Advanced)

About this course

International cooperation and conflict are so common that we often take them for granted. But how does international cooperation and conflict come about? How and why do states form institutions that constrain or foster inter-state behaviour. The first part of the course focuses on the major theories and concepts of interstate cooperation and institutions. We begin by discussing the dominant perspective on IOs— neoliberal institutionalism—and its critics, which include realism and constructivism. In the second part of the course we will be introduced to the major institutions in the areas of the environment, human rights, and global markets. The course concludes with a discussion of the role international organizations can play in promoting peace and deterring armed conflict.

Throughout the course, students will assess how well international organisations accomplish their stated goals and be expected to identify the challenges facing international organisations in the modern world.

By the end of the course students will:

  • Have developed an understanding of the difficulties associated with global governance and how those difficulties affect (1) the willingness of states to enter into organisations, (2) the design of international institutions, and (3) how well institutions function.
  • Be able to critically evaluate theories and concepts in international cooperation and global governance.
  • Be able to understand the role that institutions play in creating international policy, and assess how well these institutions serve their functions, including how the challenges facing institutions affect welfare at all levels—the organization, their member governments, and individual citizens.

Please note that POLS0026 is an advanced Political Science module. Its delivery is based on the assumption that you are familiar with concepts and theories central to the field. If this is not the case, you may find additional background reading necessary to appropriately engage with the course material. The following texts are recommended:

Rittberger, V, Zangl B and Kruck, A. 2012. International Organization. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Hurd, I. 2010. International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice. Cambridge: CUP.

Armstrong, D, Lloyd, L and Redmond, J. 2004. International Organisation in World Politics (3rd edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave

Karns, MP and Mingst, KA. 2010. International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

You may also want to look at the POLS7014 reading list from last year (accessible via the UCL Library) to get an idea of the readings and topics covered in the module itself.

This module may not be taken by students who have previously taken POLS6014.