PO2MUN-Model United Nations

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Andreas Behnke

Email: a.behnke@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
The Model United Nations module explores the structure and function of the United Nations in a changing global context. The module includes an in-depth simulation of various countries and their positions, aims and role within the UN focusing on a crisis scenario. Students learn about foreign policy analysis, multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, international organisations, and contemporary global issues. The subsidised trip to the Model UN Conference in Belgium is a compulsory part of the module and students may need to contribute up to £300 to attend.


Diplomacy will be experienced first-hand during this module as students engage with the processes and institutions of the UN, and the contributions they make to member states. Students will put their knowledge, understanding and diplomatic skills to the test when they seek to analyse, debate and strive to reach collective agreement on key global issues, representing the University at an international Model United Nations conference. Students will work independently, in groups and as a cohort, realising the importance of their own contributions and the importance of teamwork. 

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students are expected to be able to:
•demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the structure of the UN, its committee structure, and its relationship with individual states;
•demonstrate practice and understanding of the different diplomatic international negotiation means that operate within the UN system and its overall decision-making process;
•apply their understanding of the relationship between states and the UN order through debate and policy writing;
•explain and discuss political, social, and economic policy issues for a particular (allocated) country;
•confidently participate in live simulations with other students from around the world, networking and caucusing to enhance communication skills; and,
•proficiently research the foreign policy of different states, analyse, compare and contrast these and demonstrate findings in seminar discussions, presentations, and essays.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to develop:
•analytical and critical thinking;
•interpersonal skills, particularly those of debating, public speaking;
•an in depth knowledge of the various bodies that constitute the UN and its specialised agencies;
•international diplomatic techniques and a comprehensive understanding of the UN Rules and Procedures and the Model UN Rules and Procedures;
•independently identify, formulate, investigate, and analyse problems and perform tasks within given time frames, demonstrating self-organisation, initiative, and time management; and,
•appreciation of other countries and diverse societies, cultures and practices.

Outline content:
Content is indicative and may be subject to changes:
In the Model United Nations module students become diplomats of all of the world’s states. They represent different countries, advancing their foreign policies and debating the issues and crises that face the world today. Model United Nations covers a variety of subject matters such as the operation of the UN and its committees, international law, foreign policy formulation, and public speaking and networking. Students will also participate in a prestigious International Model United Nations conference which is a compulsory part of the module. Details of costs below.

The Model UN conference that students will attend during this module offers a realistic condensed simulation of international diplomacy as it takes place within the United Nations system. Student teams from many different universities and countries, each representing a different state, come together to represent the positions and interests of their states on a variety of important global issues. In their role as diplomats, students work together to resolve conflicts and to formulate resolutions that effectively address critical world problems.

In preparing for the conference, students research the foreign policies of many states. In so doing, they learn about the cultural, social, and historical features of different states and how those features consequently shape interactions in the international system. This experience helps develop an appreciation for different cultures and perspectives as well as building skills in negotiation and problem-solving which are essential in a diverse international society.

Training and preparation for the conference in which the students will represent a country’s positions on a prescribed agenda of contemporary global issues typically requires several hours of individual and group work per week to complement the lecture series. Preparation will include research into the allocated state’s policy regarding many of the common problems facing humanity, such as climate change, gender inequality and as well as communicating with embassies from around the world. The conference typically involves twelve-fourteen hour days of concentrated negotiations and drafting of resolutions over a period of three to four days. Students are to complete a written report following the experiential component (see Assessment below).

The autumn term will consist of introductory lectures to the UN system and substantive lectures concerning various key issues. Students will also research, prepare for and take part in a United Nations simulation exercise. The spring term will centre on preparation for attendance of the International Model United Nations conference.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is taught in a variety of different ways. Students will receive nine initial lectures in the autumn term of both a procedural and substantive nature. Tutorials will provide opportunities for further discussion, practice of Model UN diplomatic processes, such as debating and caucusing, and conducting simulation exercises.
Students will engage in significant independent research during both the autumn and spring terms to prepare for written and oral tasks. Cohort debates will take place in a simulation of the Model UN during the autumn term. During the spring term skills will be honed and techniques practiced ready for the International Model UN Conference.

Students will be assessed with an individual report, a written assessment and a collective student report following their attendance of the Model United Nations Conference (see Assessment below).

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 9
Tutorials 6 12
Project Supervision 10
External visits 60
Guided independent study 45 58
Total hours by term 60.00 140.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Report 50
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:
No examination.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will complete the following three assessed assignments during the module:

Assignment 1 – Oral presentation and follow-up debate at the UN Security Council simulation (10%).

Assignment 2 – Students will write an essay of 3,000 words on a substantive issue related to the areas of practice of the UN (40%).

Assignment 3 – After attending KULMUN students will individually complete a country-based report of 4,000 words (50%). 

Formative assessment methods:
Students will receive regular feedback on draft position papers.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:
    40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    If a student fails to pass the year at the first attempt there is an opportunity to be re-assessed on one further occasion at the next opportunity in those modules achieving a mark of less than 40%. Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements even if they have previously passed one of those elements. It is expected, however, that the majority of students would probably elect not to repeat an element in which they had already passed, in which case the confirmed marks would be carried forward.

    Coursework: Failed or missing coursework should be re-submitted by 1st August, emailed directly to politics@reading.ac.uk, AND submitted on Blackboard.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books:

    2) Specialist equipment or materials:

    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:

    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.

    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:

    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: Students will have to pay for part of the costs of travel, accommodation and fees for the conference in Belgium. The School will offer a subsidy but the costs could amount to up to £300. The conference is compulsory.

    Last updated: 15 October 2018


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