University of Kent at Canterbury

Module Specification
The title of the module
International Organisation: The UN System (PO555)
The School which will be responsible for management of the module
Politics and International Relations
The Start Date of the Module
Spring 2011(Revised January 2015)
The cohort of students (onwards) to which the module will be applicable.
September 2009 entrants onwards
The number of students expected to take the module
Approximately 200
Modules to be withdrawn on the introduction of this proposed module and
consultation with other relevant Departments and Faculties regarding the withdrawal
PO555 is an established module within the School of Politics and IR. This revision respecifies the course content and changes the assessment system to better establish a
coherent assessment strategy across modules in the School.
The level of the module (eg Certificate [C]/4, Intermediate [I]/5, Honours [H]/6 or
Postgraduate [M]/7)
Intermediate [I]/5
The number of credits which the module represents
15 credits
Which term(s) the module is to be taught in (or other teaching pattern)
Prerequisite and co-requisite modules
The programmes of study to which the module contributes
This is a core course for Stage 2 of the BA in Politics and International Relations (all
versions) and the BA in Conflict, Peace and Security.
The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their
relationship to programme learning outcomes
On completion of the module, a successful student will be able to:
12.1: Understand the reasons for the historic growth in international organisations.
12.2: Understand the historical evolution of the UN system and its precursors in the
twentieth century.
12.3: Appreciate the diversity and scope of UN activities in world politics.
12.4: Evaluate the effectiveness of the UN in regulating the use of force.
12.5: Critically assess theoretical perspectives on international organisation.
12.6: Assess the significance of international organisations in world politics.
The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to
programme learning outcomes
13.1: examine and evaluate different interpretations of political issues, events and solutions
to problems
13.2: describe, evaluate and apply different approaches involved in analysing and
presenting political information
13.3: develop reasoned and structured arguments, synthesise relevant information and
exercise critical judgement
13.4: reflect on and manage their own learning and seek to make use of constructive
feedback from peers and staff to enhance their performance and personal skills
13.5: communicate ideas effectively and fluently in writing
13.6: use information and communication technology for bibliographical searches, data
acquisition, data analysis and presentation
13.7: work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management
A synopsis of the curriculum
This module explores the origins, evolution and role of international organisations in world
politics. The aim is to understand how these institutions have developed, why states
choose, refuse and fail to use these institutions as a means to achieve their objectives, and
to what extent international organisations can promote international cooperation. The
module takes the United Nations system as its central focus, but will also consider
historical forms of international organisation as well as the processes of global governance.
International organisations are involved in a wide variety of issues in contemporary
international politics. This module will survey a selection of them, exploring the political
differences and questions that arise in international responses to these issues.
Indicative Reading List
M. Barnett and M. Finnemore (2004) Rules for the World: International Organizations in
Global Politics (Cornell University Press)
R.C. Hilderbrand (1990) Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the
Search for Postwar Security (University of North Carolina Press)
G. J. Ikenberry (2000) After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of
Order after Major Wars (Princeton University Press)
M.P. Karns and K.A. Mingst (2009) International Organizations: The Politics and Processes
of Global Governance (Lynne Rienner Publishers)
R.O. Keohane (2005) After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political
Economy (Princeton University Press)
C.B. Smith (2005) Politics and Process at the United Nations: The Global Dance (Lynne
Rienner Publishers)
United Nations, Charter of the United Nations
Learning and Teaching Methods, including the nature and number of contact hours
and the total study hours which will be expected of students, and how these relate to
achievement of the intended learning outcomes
 Schedule: 11 contact hours; one lecture per week for 11 weeks
 Learning Outcomes (12.1-12.6; 13.1-.13.3). Lectures will aim at introducing
key theories and frameworks used to analyse international organisation, to
provide an overview of key aspects of the topic of a given week - in particular
setting the development of international organisation in a historical context.
The lectures will provide a guide to the main issues dealt with in the academic
literature and the debates surrounding them.
 Achievement of Learning Outcomes: These outcomes will be achieved
through the oral and visual presentation and discussion of lecture material
that will synthetically introduce the relevant issues and present key positions
adopted in the literature, together with related concepts and theories. An
introduction to the use of online resources on the UN and other international
organisations will aid students with their research and development of key
Schedule: 11 contact hours, one seminar per week for 11 weeks. Seminars
will be based on discussions of the topics introduced in the lectures and the
reading done independently by students.
Learning Outcomes: (12.1-12.6; 13.1-13.5; 13.7). The seminars will enable
students to gain a more comprehensive understanding by linking lectures,
independent reading and seminar discussion. Seminar discussion will also
enable students to apply concepts and theories to questions of policy and
practice, and structure and defend complex arguments through debate and
Achievement of Learning Outcomes: These outcomes will be achieved
through student participation in informal group work and collective discussion,
and informal simulation. This will require the use of research, analytical and
presentational skills. The seminar discussions will help students develop their
understanding through interaction, co-operation and confrontation with their
Independent study
 Schedule: 128 hours. In these hours, students are expected to read the
required texts for each seminar, a selection of recommended texts, conduct
independent research and write their coursework assignments.
 Learning Outcomes: (12.1-12.6; 13.1-13.7). The process of independent
study will enable students to explore in detail aspects and issues introduced
in the lectures, to link them to wider issues in international politics, reflect
critically and theoretically on them, and develop their own perspective on the
role of international organisations in world politics.
 Achievement of Learning Outcomes: These outcomes will be achieved
through students’ own reading, research and preparation of presentations and
Assessment methods and how these relate to testing achievement of the intended
learning outcomes
Type of
towards final
mark (%)
Students write one essay of
approximately 2,500 words
answering one question
related to the topics dealt
with in the lectures and
Students sit a two-hour
examination in which they
13.1-13.3; 13.5,
are asked to answer TWO
essay questions out of a
choice of eight.
The essays provide students with an opportunity to focus on one of the issues discussed in
the module and to pursue it in some depth using the whole range of UKC learning
resources. The extensive feedback provided on the coursework essay in particular will
enable students to enhance their understanding across the range of module learning
outcomes, as well help them to develop their research and writing skills. The exam covers
the range of issues presented in the module.
Implications for learning resources, including staff, library, IT and space
a. Staff: No additional resources required
b. Library: No additional resources required
c. IT: No additional resources required
d. Space: No additional resources required
A statement confirming that, as far as can be reasonably anticipated, the curriculum,
learning and teaching methods and forms of assessment do not present any nonjustifiable disadvantage to students with disabilities
As far as can be reasonably anticipated, the curriculum, learning and teaching methods
and forms of assessment do not present any non-justifiable disadvantage to students with
Statement by the Director of Learning and Teaching: "I confirm I have been consulted on the
above module proposal and have given advice on the correct procedures and required content of
module proposals"
Director of Learning and Teaching
Print Name
Statement by the Head of Department: "I confirm that the Department has approved the
introduction of the module and, where the module is proposed by Departmental staff, will be
responsible for its resourcing"
Head of Department
Print Name
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