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International Relations and Global Governance

  • Module code: PO5005
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level 4 International Relations or equivalent.
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

Contemporary world politics involves a plethora of global actors, institutions and processes that provide governance at an international level.  They help to regulate the behaviour of states, maintain stability in global politics and encourage cooperation between.  Moreover, in an increasingly inter-connected world, global governance mechanisms provide the starting point for a fuller sense of international community – a platform for the peaceful resolution of disputes and an environment in which the pursuit of peace, human rights, development and global justice might be realised.  At the same time, the nature of world politics and sometimes the global governance mechanisms themselves pose significant challenges to the development of a more harmonious and just world order.  The module provides students with some of the knowledge and thinking tools to begin to understand and to conceptualise possible solutions to these problems.   

The module begins by considering the question of how we understand international politics and the different thinking tools that have been developed to help us interpret global political events and processes.  International relations theory has played valuable role in helping us to understand the nuances and underlying processes that influence state behaviour and the development of foreign policy.  Important themes here are the role that theory plays in both expanding and limiting our imagination of alternative world orders, and who speaks and who doesn't in the production of knowledge about world politics.

The module then goes on to look at the systems of global governance that have emerged to help develop a more peaceful and cooperative world order.  Themes of collective security, regional integration, development and international economic governance are examined, alongside the organisations like the UN, NATO and the EU that have emerged to support these objectives.  This part of the module raises critical questions about how power influences the evolution and operation of these governance systems, why we still live in a deeply unequal world and how things might be changed.

Taken as a whole, the module aims to foster an outward-looking internationalist consciousness within our students, an appreciation of the ways power flows across state borders, and new imaginations of a more just global politics.  

Aims

  • To introduce students to a range of theoretical approaches of international relations, and to help them develop skills in using these theories to analyse and interpret contemporary processes and events in global politics.
  • To help students develop an advanced understanding of the concept of global governance and the mechanisms through which international relations are currently organised.
  • To develop students' critical insight into the ways in which real-life political events have shaped the development of international relations theory and, conversely, the way in which dominant voices and situated perspectives within specific theory frameworks may have shaped world politics in practice.
  • To develop students' ability to construct arguments concerning global governance systems and international relations theory, using relevant concepts and expressing them in the oral and written forms.

(Guidance:  There should normally be no more than four aims per module)

Learning outcomes

  • Identify and critically examine a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of international relations.
  • Use international relations theories to interpret and analyse international political events and processes.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of key structures and mechanisms of international relations, and the political contexts in which they were founded and have evolved.
  • To reflect critically on the way in which international politics is currently organised, the limitations of current global governance arrangements and the challenges faced.
  • To examine international relations theories and global governance systems in a variety of written and spoken forms, presenting clear and well-founded arguments.                                    

 (Guidance:  There should normally be no more than six learning outcomes per module)

Curriculum content

The first teaching block introduces students to the key international relations theories that have been used to interpret global political life in the post-WWI world.  This builds on the foundational international relations concepts and issues to which students were introduced on PO4003 at Level 4.  The module begins by exploring some of the mainstream traditional theories – realism, liberal internationalism and the English School.  It then goes on to examine some of the challenges that have been raised by more contemporary approaches – critical theory, constructivism and post-structuralism.  The module reflects on the ways in which seminal events, socio-political changes and power shifts in the internal system have contributed to change in the theorisation of international relations.

 Having introduced students to the key interpretative tools, the module proceeds to examine the empirical mechanisms through which global politics is ordered and power flows in international relations.  This part of the module explores the United Nations, collective security systems, international financial institutions and global environmental regimes.  Students are encouraged to use the theories from TB1 to help them to understand how global governance structures have evolved, their shortcomings, and the constraints on and opportunities for reform.

Teaching and learning strategy

The module is comprised of a weekly lecture-workshop and a monthly seminar, which provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of contemporary global politics.  The weekly lecture-workshops provide a structured introductory overview of key theories and global governance mechanisms, and a range of interactive tasks to help students work with and gain ownership of the concepts.  The workshops make use of interactive games, policy simulations and world politics role plays to foster experiential and active learning.  All tasks are aimed at encouraging students to actively incorporate their own ideas, interpretations and subjective experiences into the discussion of module content, and to help develop skills in working with arguments made by others.

Lecture workshops are often linked to specific pieces of directed reading, drawing upon introductory textbooks, classic pieces of original writing and more contemporary forms of policy report.  In each session, there is specific reference made to the skills needed for the assessment task, opportunities for formative feedback and the development of specific transferable skills. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching 22 two-hour lecture-workshops 6 one-hour seminars 44 6
Guided independent study Student independent study 250
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment takes the form of:

  • 2000 word theory review, submitted at the end of Teaching Block 1
  • A group presentation during Teaching Block 2
  • 2000 word briefing paper, submitted at the end of Teaching Block 2

Opportunities for formative feedback:

  • Discussion of responses to weekly reading
  • Games and structured role-plays involving a short presentational element
  • Written responses to policy review tasks
  • Discussion with tutors and class-mates within seminars

The assessment strategy for PO5005 is structured to encourage deep learning and the development of personal interpretative and analytical capacities.  In TB1 students are introduced to a range of key readings that are discussed within seminars.  These are then combined with a structured task, often involving a specific empirical case study, aimed at drawing out some of the key aspects of each theories.  This process allows tutors to provide regular formative feedback on the development of students' thinking, interpretative and argumentation skills, alongside evaluating their overall knowledge of the theory area.  The formative feedback obtained from seminar tasks is all structured to feed forward into the theory review task, which tests the students' capabilities at using the theories to which they have been introduced.

The process continues along similar lines in TB2, though the focus becomes more empirical, with greater use of structured games to help students reflect on the dilemmas of global governance structures.  Basic presentations are used during seminars to help equip students with the necessary skills to develop the briefing paper assessment piece.  Regular reference is made in both teaching blocks to the connections between seminar tasks and the summative assessment pieces to help students understand the skills that are being tested and to help them reflect on how to improve.

In terms of the summative assessment points, the two pieces are designed to help students consider different ways in which academic research might be presented and to help them develop skills in writing for different audiences.  The tasks are structured to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between core knowledge of the theories and empirical content, and the skills necessary to make sense of this material and achieve synthesis between the two.    

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Identify and evaluate a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of international relations. F: Seminar discussions, reading responses and structured tasks. S: 2000 word theory review
Use international relations theories to interpret and analyse international political events and processes. F: Seminar discussions, reading responses and structured tasks. S: 2000 word theory review
Demonstrate knowledge of key structures and mechanisms of international relations, and the political contexts in which they were founded and have evolved. F: Responses to weekly reading, seminar discussions and structured games/ role plays. S: 2000 word briefing paper and group presentation
To reflect critically on the way in which international politics is currently organised, the limitations of current global governance arrangements and the challenges faced. F: Responses to weekly reading, seminar discussions and structured games/ role plays. S: 2000 word briefing paper and group presentation
To examine international relations theories and global governance systems in a variety of written forms, presenting clear and well-founded arguments. F: Short written pieces presented in seminars S: 2000 word briefing paper, 2000 word theory review and group presentation

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK 2000 word theory review 50
CWK 2000 word briefing paper 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Margaret Karns and Karen Mingst (2009), International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance, 2nd Edition, London: Lynne Rienner

Scott Burchill, Richard Devetak, Andrew Linklater, Matthew Paterson, Christian Reus-Smit and Jacqui True (2009) Theories of International Relations, 4th Edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Bibliography recommended reading

Sinclair, T. (2013) Global Governance, Cambridge: Polity.

Wilkinson, R., ed. (2004) The Global Governance Reader, London: Routledge.

Whitman, J. (2009) The Fundamentals of Global Governance, New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Wlliams, Michael (2005) The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Morgenthau, Hans (1993) Politics Among Nations, London, McGraw-Hill

Carr, EH (1995) The Twenty Years Crisis, London, Papermac

Keohane, Robert (1984) After Hegemony: Co-operation and Discord in the World Political Economy, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press

Hedley Bull (2002) The Anarchical Society, Basingstoke, Palgrave

Wendt, Alexander (1999) Social Theory of International Politics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

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