International Organisations

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier CBG.10.02 and Dr Theresa Squatrito CBG 8.08


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available with permission 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, how decisions in International Organisations are made, and what impact International Organisations 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, the International Criminal Court and regional organisations like the European Union, the African Union, and ASEAN


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totaling a minimum of 40 hours across Michaelmas Term, Lent and Summer Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT, 1 essay in the LT and 1 presentation in the MT and LT.

Formative essays 1,500 words.  Class teachers will mark the essays and provide feedback on student presentations.

Indicative reading

Ian Hurd (2018): International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice, 3rd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press);

Volker Rittberger, Bernhard Zangl and Andreas Kruck, and Hylke Dijkstra International Organization: Polity, Policy, Politics, 3rd ed. (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2019).


Essay (30%, 2000 words) in the MT.
Take-home assessment (70%) in the ST.

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

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 23.7
2:1 58.5
2:2 15.5
Third 0.5
Fail 1.9

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: 61

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Capped 2019/20: Yes (80)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information