We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA49430: International Organisations

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module aims to give students a holistic understanding of International Organisations (IOs) and familiarize students with the theoretical approaches used to analyse and explain IOs’ role in international politics. Students will gain an understanding of the history of international and regional organisations, their functions, their development, their internal dynamics, and major scholarly debates on their current role in international relations;
  • The module aims to provide to students with an understanding of international organisation that goes beyond the core institutions of global governance. It will do this by broadening the concept of organisation to encompass less formalised institutions and also those that lie outside of the West.


  • By the end of the module, students will
  • Have a basic understanding of the core international organisations.
  • Have an awareness that international organisations are diverse, multi-sited, unequal, and politically contested.
  • Be able to deploy theory to analyse the politics of international organisations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module, students will acquire knowledge and understanding of:
  • The historical trends in the development of existing global institutional framework;
  • The political dynamics of IOs in relation to ideology, class, gender, and race;
  • The value of theoretical approaches for the empirical analysis of IOs;
  • An awareness of major global challenges facing international institutions in areas such as economic development, security, human rights and environmental sustainability.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • To identify and analyse subject-related literature, including primary material;
  • To identify and engage with conceptualisations and/or theorisations of major elements of international relations;
  • To utilise a range of resources to understand and evaluate the goals, internal dynamics, and effectiveness of IOs;
Key Skills:
  • Students will also develop some important key skills, suitable for underpinning study at this and subsequent levels, such as:
  • Independent learning within a defined framework of study at an advanced level; Independent thought in analysing and critiquing existing scholarship on the subject area and in evaluating its contribution;
  • Advanced ability to seek out and use relevant data sources, including electronic and bibliographic sources, as well as primary sources, and policy reports;
  • Ability for independent thinking informed by the academic debate at an advanced level.
  • Advanced essay-writing skills and the ability to work to a deadline;
  • Effective written communication of research and policy applications;
  • Ability to reflect critically on their own work and performance.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module is taught through an integrated set of interactive lectures and seminars.
  • There are fourteen 90-minute interactive lectures. The body of the lecture is an hour long. This is followed by 30 minutes in which students can raise questions, issues, and points of clarification for discussion. The interactive lectures ensure that students receive the core knowledge of the module and also provide an opportunity to engage with the material in real time.
  • There are seven 90-minute seminars. These are designed to synthesise components from the interactive lectures for further reflective and theoretical thinking. The seminars have been extended to ensure deep interactive discussion of the course material.
  • Formative assessment in the form of a 1,500-word essay allows students practice in developing their skills in formulating a coherent and logically consistent written argument ahead of the summative assessments.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 14 Weekly over two terms 90 minutes 21
Seminars 7 Fortnightly over two terms 90 minutes 10.5
Preparation and Reading 268.5
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

A formative essay (1,500 words) to be submitted at the end of the Michaelmas Term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University