Not available in 2015/16
DV429      Half Unit
Global Civil Society

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Mary Kaldor


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Global Politics (Global Civil Society). This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Human Rights and MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Civil society has come to be considered as an essential element of contemporary global politics, taken either as a normative concept linked to the idea of democracy or as a descriptive concept that refers to the activism of NGOs, social movements, and global advocacy networks. This course provides students with the conceptual and empirical background that allows them to critically engage with the complex debate over global civil society and to assess the potential and the challenges of civil society activism in the context of our increasingly globalising world.

The first part of the course covers the historical evolution of the concept of civil society and the relevance of different interpretation of civil society to our global age. It will include Enlightenment thinkers such as Hobbes, Locke or Adam Ferguson, the Marxist and Hegelian tradition, ideas drawn from classical Islam, and contemporary ways of understanding the concept especially in the Central European revolutions of 1989 and the Middle Eastern revolutions of 2011. The second part of the course is more practical and covers the characteristics, repertoires and impacts of key global civil society actors, such as NGOs, social movements, nationalist groups, religious movements and global advocacy networks; the relevance of the media and Internet activism; as well as the role of global civil society on key issues such as the economic crisis, the War on Terror and democracy.

Our readings cover key texts on civil society and globalisation, NGOs, social movements, nationalist and religious movements and advocacy networks.


15 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

One non-assessed essay (not more than 1,200 words) during term and at least one presentation.

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be presented at the beginning of the term. A basic introductory text is: Kaldor, Mary (2003) Global Civil Society: An Answer to War Cambridge: Polity Press.


Exam (40%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (60%, 5000 words) in the ST.

The course will be assessed by one 3-5,000-word-essay (60%) due on the first day of Summer Term. The assessed essay can be an extension of the non-assessed one. A two-hour unseen examination in Summer Term (40%).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.9
Merit 86.1
Pass 5.6
Fail 1.4

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2014/15: 26

Average class size 2014/15: 13

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 84.6%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)