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POL2310 : International Organizations and Diplomacy

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Katharine Rietig
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This semester 1 second-year undergraduate module introduces students to International Organizations (IO), and their role in global governance as well as their influence on national policymaking.

Key aims are:

-       Expanding student’s knowledge about major International Organizations (IOs);
-       Examining the governance structure of different IOs from their origins to potential reforms, exploring how IOs work together within the UN System and beyond to address the world’s most pressing problems such as armed conflict, economic crises and climate change;
-       Analysing how countries can influence the negotiation process towards achieving outcomes;
-       Develop an understanding of the challenges and limitations of international negotiations through international institutions in the area of international cooperation via experiential learning. Students take on the roles of diplomats representing their assigned countries’ interests on a given topic and explore options to negotiate resolutions to the international problem.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module introduces and discusses different International Organizations (IOs). It examines the governance structure of IOs and explores how different IOs work together within and beyond the UN system to address some of the world’s most pressing problems such as armed conflict, economic crises and climate change. It analyses how countries and non-state actors can influence the negotiation process towards achieving outcomes and develops an appreciation for the factors supporting effective decision-making. The module also provides links to key concepts of international law and international relations theories. At the heart of the module is the Diplomacy component, which allows students to take on the roles of diplomats representing countries in simulations of international negotiations by proposing and negotiating solutions to these international challenges.

The module will be delivered via one-hour lectures and seminars, which contain student presentations, and further professional skills building elements including a public speaking workshop and simulation of an International Organization decision-making forum (e.g., the Security Council, World Trade Organization, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Human Rights Council).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical24:008:00Newcastle Model United Nations, 2 x 4 hours
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Public speaking workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will improve their understanding of international organizations, other countries’ political interests, foreign policy, economy and culture, thus developing problem-solving skills. Students will develop public speaking skills and build confidence to speak about issues of international concern. To prepare their speeches and convey the countries’ political interests, students will use and improve their research and critical analysis skills to find, synthesise, evaluate and apply complex information while also developing a working knowledge of international law and negotiations. Students will understand the necessity, opportunities, challenges and limitations of international institutions.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A602500 word essay
Prof skill assessmnt1M20Quizzes, answers to questions during seminars and work with other students, including oral presentation
Portfolio1M20Portfolio of position paper and resolution proposal in preparation for the Model United Nations simulation (400 words) and engagement in the Model United Nations simulation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment is constructively aligned with the learning outcomes and teaching activities.

The collaborative work within the professional skills assessment in the form of student presentations and active engagement during the seminars and workshop aims to keep students engaged with the module throughout the semester. Students have provided excellent feedback on this component and highlighted its importance to foster and maintain an engaging and inspiring learning community. It is also essential to develop central professional skills such as confidence in public speaking, the ability to work well in teams and presenting convincing arguments. In case students cannot attend the seminar or workshop, they will be able to submit on three occasions critical summaries of the readings assigned for that week to avoid losing points related to this assessment.

To perform well and enjoy the Model United Nations conferences, good preparation is essential. This will be rewarded with an assessed portfolio consisting of a position paper (students will be assigned to represent one country; the position paper outlines their countries’ position on the agenda topics) and proposed resolution (which will allow the students to make constructive proposals during the negotiations on how the international problem can be solved), as well as students’ engagement in the Model United Nations conference.

Students write a 2,500 word essay to further develop their research skills and gain a better understanding of how their negotiation experience relates to the realities faced by diplomats representing their countries in international negotiations as well as the opportunities and constraints of cooperation within international organizations. The essay requires students to reflect on and synthesise their learning experience over the semester, including the Model United Nations conference.

Reading Lists