Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 15 x 1 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 1 hour seminars 1 x 2 hour (Security Council simulation session)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written Examination  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2500 Word Essay  40%
Semester Assessment Seminar Assessment  10%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
1. Discuss the historical development of the United Nations and the changing roles it has played in world politics.
2. Critically evaluate common criticisms of the United Nations.
3. Analyse the validity of claims made in defence of the organisation.
4. Demonstrate a knowledge of the UN's key functions and the extent to which its efforts in these fields have been successful.
5. Demonstrate a knowledge of contemporary issues at the UN and show the ability to critically evaluate the effectiveness of the organisation's response to them.
6. Discuss and evaluate proposals for reform of the organisation.


This module adds to Departmental provision in the area of International Politics. It will allow students to explore the role of the United Nations in international politics as well as debates surrounding the nature and efficacy of the organisation. In addition it will allow students to gain a more detailed knowledge of contemporary world events with a particular emphasis on how the United Nations is responding to them.

Brief description

Following an introduction to the creation of the UN the module examines different ways - both positive and negative - in which the UN and its international role can be viewed. The module then moves on to examine some of the key areas in which UN operates, and finally examines debates about the Organization's future. Seminars focus on major contemporary issues at the UN. The final seminar session is a simulation of the Security Council in which each student represents one member state and the Council must decide how (or whether) to respond to a fictional international crisis.


1. The Lessons of the League: International Organizations in historical context
2. Nations Uniting: From the Atlantic Charter to San Francisco

The Many UNs
3. The global talking shop: Ineffectiveness, inefficiency and inaction
4. The P5's poodle: Agreement and disagreement in the Security Council
5. The world's stage: The UN as political theatre
6. A vehicle for change: The Third World at the UN
7. Making the world go round: The Specialized Agencies
8. A spokesman for humanity: The Secretary-General in world politics

Key functions
9. Peacekeeping and peacemaking
10. State-building and transitional administration
11. Disarmament
12. Disaster relief and humanitarian aid
13. Human rights
14. International development

Looking forward
15. The Future UN

[N.B. Seminars 1-5 address major contemporary issues at the UN. As a result the exact topics may change in response to world events]
1. Terrorism
2. Climate change
3. Darfur
5. UN reform
6. Security Council simulation (2 hours)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. This module will particularly test aural and oral communication skills as it involves assessed seminar performance and the end-of-module Security Council simulation session in which students will be required to put forward arguments in defence of their own `national interest'.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework. The need to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly giving presentations, listening, thinking and responding to spoken presentations. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay and preparation for seminars will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of students' ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resources and materials. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module ; Ability to evaluate competing perspectives ; Demonstrate subject specific research techniques ; Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and political problems
Team work Students will undertake team exercises in the seminars and the convenor will encourage students to work in teams outside of them. Blackboard facilities such as the discussion board will also be used. The Security Council simulation session will require students to cooperate with each other and work in teams


This module is at CQFW Level 6