Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE International Institutions

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT International Relations

DESCRIPTION As a result of the two World Wars in the 20th century, people have realized that international relations can be sustained through the setting up of international institutions as a means to exchange ideas, and maintain and build peace. In particular, the negative experience of World War II instigated a more forceful political commitment to institutionalize peace through international institutions. The United Nations is one of the major expressions of this evolutionary process in inter-state relations. The European Union, NATO, and a large number of regional organizations, including the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and MERCOSUR aim at promoting unity among governments and their people and in harmonizing efforts for regional and inter-regional cooperation.

The aim of this study-unit is to analyse and understand the importance of some of the major international institutions in world politics from both a theoretical and empirical point of view.

To this end, the study-unit will initially focus on the theoretical approaches employed to analyse international institutions. It will then concentrate on individual international institutions (political-military organizations, economic organizations and regional organizations), on their working structures and modus operandi. Attention is also given to their role in processes of cooperation and conflict, the management of international economic relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, etc. A final part of the unit will be dedicated to a comparison of regional organizations.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims at exploring major theoretical and empirical aspects of the role of international institutions in global politics. The course offers knowledge on the theoretical approaches to the study of international organizations. Then students will be exposed to the nature of international institutions, their governing structures, and their modes of action. Lectures will focus on the United Nations, NATO, the World Bank and a selected number of regional organizations, including the EU. The purpose is to enable students to identify the major international organizations that are participating in contemporary international relations and to gain a critical understanding of their role in addressing contemporary issues regarding security, economic crises, and human rights concerns etc.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will:
- Better understand the history and evolution of major international institutions since the end of WWII;
- Be familiar with key theories of international governance pertaining to international institutions;
- Be able to identify and describe the major international organizations that are participants in global relations;
- Gain knowledge of the history and working structures of major international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the World Bank and the EU;
- Be able to discuss the effectiveness of these international institutions with respect to addressing global issues such as security concerns, economic crises, and human rights;
- Be able to evaluate the conceptual material in light of global realities through the exploration of case studies.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Identify the main theories of International Institutions studies;
- Discuss the mandate and structure of key international institutions;
- Identify the main role and limitations of key international institutions in specific policy fields.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Ian Hurd (2014) International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Pres.
- Volker Rittberger, Bernhard Zangl, and Andreas Kruck (2012) International Organization, 2nd edition, Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Supplementary Readings:

- R. Tavares (2007) Global Institutions – Regional Security – the capacity of international Organisations, Routledge.
- R.O. Keohane (1998) International Institutions: Can interdependence work? Colo, Westview.
- R.O Keohane, (1989) International Institutions and State Power. Boulder, Colo., Westview.
- J T Checkel (2007) International Institutions and Socialization in Europe, Cambridge University Press.
- Lisa Martin and Beth Simmons (2000) International Institutions. An International Organisation Reader MIT Press Cambridge Massachusetts.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper SEM2 Yes 30%
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 70%

LECTURER/S Angela Pennisi Di Floristella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.