Postgraduate taught 

Human Rights & International Politics MSc/PgDip

International Organizations POLITIC5081

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course examines the role of international organizations (IOs) for international politics and introduces students to the effects of organizations, like the World Bank, IMF, or NATO, for international cooperation.


One two hour session (lecture + seminar) held weekly for 10 weeks.


The summative assessment comprises:

1. Midterm essay (3,000 words) in the form of two short answer questions (60% of grade).

2. IO factsheet (2,000 words) about an IO of own choice which students will prepare as a groupwork in pairs. The results of the factsheet are to be presented to students in class during the final weeks of the term (40% of grade).

Course Aims

- To introduce students to the main theoretical arguments and concepts around IO formation, IO interaction with other actors such as national governments, and their effects on international cooperation.

- To analyse differences and similarities in the institutional design, membership, and rules of different IOs and their implications for successful conflict resolution and global governance.

- To equip students with a deep understanding about the structure and inner workings of major IOs, like the World Bank, IMF, WTO, NATO, and others, from different policy areas.

- To train students in the rigorous empirical analysis of the functioning of IO in view of research design and methodological challenges.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able:

- To demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the key theoretical debates about IOs.

- To assess why IOs differ in their institutional design, membership, and rules depending on policy area and the underlying cooperation problem.

- To evaluate the effectiveness of IOs in terms of problem solving and international governance and to know about methodological challenges around measuring effectiveness.

- To formulate and design appropriate research questions about IOs and to answer them in relation to extant theories.

- To gain familiarity with the functioning of major IOs, like the World Bank, IMF, WTO, or NATO through group work.

- To transfer the developed analytical toolkit and expertise to other IOs of their interest.

- To situate the role of IOs in the broader context of international relations scholarship.

- To advance reasoned and factually supported arguments, both orally and in writing.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Completion of summative assessment components.