POL3110 : International Organisation and Diplomacy

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This semester 1 third-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:

-       Deepening student’s knowledge about major IOs, in particular the UN System, WTO, IMF, World Bank and regional organizations such as ASEAN and the African Union.
-       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 a deeper understanding of the challenges and limitations faced by IOs 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) and their key topics. It examines the governance structure of IOs and explores how different international organisations 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 weekly one-hour lectures and seminars, which contain student presentations, but the emphasis will be on interactive student discussions and simulations of decision-making forums (e.g. the Security Council, World Trade Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, Human Rights Council).

Part 1:
Introduction of the origins and competencies of key IOs including the development of international law.

Part 2:
Role of IOs in global governance and how international cooperation on global challenges is negotiated among sovereign nation states.

Part 3:
An important aspect of international cooperation is diplomacy. The module will thus also examine negotiation strategies and the influence of state as well as non-state actors in international negotiations hosted by IOs. It will draw on international relations theories as well as theories of public policy making to explain why and under what conditions international cooperation emerges.

Part 4:
The module has a focus on building a team spirit among the students and developing skills to successfully work within a team via guided and independent study phases and a 1.5-day simulation of the work of diplomats representing their country at a UN conference. For example, students are taking on the roles of diplomats to represent the UK, France, US, Russia or China in the UN Security Council to discuss crises to international peace such as in Syria.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical113:0013:001 NCL based MUN over one half day and one full day
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Public Speaking Training in Lecture Theatre
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1162:00162:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will develop advanced public speaking skills and build a high level of confidence to speak about issues of international concern to a large audience. They will be representing the political position of a foreign country. Students will improve their understanding of other countries’ political interests, foreign policy, economy and culture, thus developing problem-solving skills. 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 the rules of diplomacy. Students will understand the necessity, opportunities, challenges and limitations of international cooperation and collaboration.

The immediate benefits to students are exposure to new perspectives and an inspiring environment. By working together with other students towards the common cause of the 1.5-day Newcastle-based Model United Nations conference, the module group develops into a team. Students will strengthen their research and analytical skills.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation101M20NOT TO BE SCHEDULED BY EXAMS- This is an internal assessment. Individual presentation
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602500 word essay
Portfolio1M10Portfolio of position paper and resolution proposal in preparation for the Model United Nations simulation, 700 words
Prof skill assessmnt1M107% Workshop/ seminar participation and 3% performance in MUN
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment is constructively aligned with the learning outcomes and teaching activities.
Students provide a presentation to the class on a chosen topic to strengthen their knowledge on the governance of key International Organizations as foundation for the other assessments. Participation in seminars, workshops and the simulation is assessed and thus rewarded since the module has a strong teamwork character (while maintaining individual assessment) and requires active participation and good preparation to achieve the learning outcomes.

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). This assessment is independent of the students’ participation in the Model United Nations conference.

Students write a 2500 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 synthesise their learning experience over the semester, including the Model United Nations conference.

Reading Lists