International Organisations

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier Room CLM.5.06. 


This course is compulsory on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available on the BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


Students should have a background in International Relations. Prior familiarity with international relations theory is an advantage, but not necessary.

Course content

The course draws on theories of international institutions to explain comparatively key aspects of the role of International Organisations in international politics. These questions include why states create International Organisations, why states transfer certain powers to them, and what impact they have on the practice of international cooperation with regard to matters of concern to international society such as the maintenance of international peace and security, the management of international economic relations, the promotion of international environmental standards, or the protection of human rights. International organisations to be discussed include the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, NATO, and regional organisations like the European Union.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy. 

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two essays of a maximum length of 1,500 words.  The first will be due in the Michaelmas Term and will provide the basis for feedback prior to the submission of the assessed coursework as well as preparation for the exam.  The second will be due in the Lent Term and will provide the basis for feedback prior to the Summer Term exam.  In addition, student will give at least one class presentation (introduction to discussion). Class teachers will mark the essays and provide feedback on student presentations.

Indicative reading

Ian Hurd (2013): International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press);

Volker Rittberger, Bernhard Zangl and Andreas Kruck, International Organization: Polity, Policy, Politics, 2nd ed. (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012).


Exam (70%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the MT.

The assessed essay will be from a fixed range of questions.  The essay topics will be posted on Moodle in Week 9 of the MT and will focus on the theories and conceptual material covered in the first part of the course.  The essay will be due in Week 11 of the MT.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 21.7
2:1 49.8
2:2 21.7
Third 5.1
Fail 1.7

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2016/17: 112

Average class size 2016/17: 11

Capped 2016/17: No

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 59%



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)