International Organisations: The Challenges of Global Governance in a Divided World

  • Summer schools
  • Department of International Relations
  • Application code SS-IR200
  • Starting TBC
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Please note: This course will not be running as part of the 2021 programme. However, you may be interested in our confirmed courses.

International organisations are created and expected to provide solutions whenever governments face transnational challenges, such as international and civil wars, humanitarian emergencies, flows of refugees, outbreaks of infectious diseases, climate change, financial market instability, sovereign debt crises, trade protectionism, and the development of poorer countries.

But their role in world politics is controversial. Some perceive them as effective and legitimate alternatives to unilateral state policies. Others regard them as fig leaves for the exercise of power by dominant states. Others yet are regularly disappointed by the gap between the lofty aspirations and their actual performance in addressing global problems, and want to know the causes of that gap. While some commentators tend to lump all international organizations together, in reality the functioning, power, and effectiveness of international organisations differ widely – across organisations, issues, regions, and over time.

Session: TBC
Dates: TBC
Lecturers: Dr Mathias Koenig-Archibugi and Dr Ulrich Sedelmeier 


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


Candidates must have passed at least one university-level course in the social sciences (politics, sociology, economics, history, law). The course is of particular interest to undergraduate students in politics and international relations, and those with a professional interest in international institutions.

Programme structure

The course will start by introducing the central analytical approaches that help us to understand key aspects of international organisations: their creation and design, their decision-making processes, their impact and policy effectiveness, and their interactions with other international organizations.

This analytical toolbox is then used to explain the role of the main international institutions in specific policy domains, including security, human rights, trade, finance, health, environment, migration and workers’ rights.

For each of those domains, the course will analyse the construction of global policy problems, the creation or selection of international organisations aimed at addressing them, the way in which policies are negotiated and decided within those institutions (with special attention to the exercise of various forms of power), the impact of the institutions on the behaviour of states and other actors, and their ability to solve the problems that motivated their creation.

Course outcomes

A key aim of the course is to understand differences in International Organisations and their implications for the solution of transnational problems.

The goal of the course is to provide participants with a comprehensive toolbox that will allow them to perform sophisticated analyses of international organisations and the opportunity to see these analytical tools applied to several of the most important IOs operating today, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the International Criminal Court.

Students will complete the course with a deeper understanding of both similarities and differences between international organisations and of their effective contribution to the governance of global issues.



With a vibrant research culture, the LSE Department of International Relations is one of the oldest and largest in the world, and remains a leading world centre for the development of the subject. Its reputation for international excellence was recognised in the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission was ranked first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs.         

LSE’s Department of International Relations ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s international relations faculty.

Reading materials

The following is the main textbook and you might want to consider purchasing it:

Rittberger, Volker, and others, International Organization (Basingstoke: Macmillan/Red Globe Press). 3rd edition of 2019.

The following textbook can be a useful complement to the main textbook:

Hurd, Ian. International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).3rd edition of 2017.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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