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 / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2012/3

Module Convenor: Dr Andreas Behnke

Email: a.behnke@reading.ac.uk

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. Students learn about foreign policy analysis, multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, international organisations, and contemporary global issues.

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 international Model United Nations conferences. 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:
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. (Funding for student participation in the Model UN conference will be provided by the School/University).

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 ten initial lectures in the autumn term of both a procedural and substantive nature. Seminars will provide opportunities for further discussion and practice of Model UN diplomatic processes, such as debating and caucusing.
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 10
Seminars 6 8
Tutorials 4 2
Project Supervision 10
External visits 60
Guided independent study 20 40 40
Total hours by term 40.00 120.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:

Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 25
Report 65
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Please note that this module will be assessed by coursework assignments only in the autumn, spring and summer. There will be NO examination.

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

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

Assignment 2 – Following completion of the simulation students will complete a written report of 1,500 words of critical reflection based on their allocated country’s performance (25%).

Assignment 3 – Students will write an essay of 3,000 words on a substantive issue related to the areas of practice of the United Nations (30%).

Assignment 4 – After attending their Model United Nations Conference students will individually complete a country-based report of 5,000 words.

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

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • 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.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guideUG.aspx)

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    i) achieve an overall average of 40% over 120 credits taken in part 2
    ii) achieve a mark of at least 30% in individual modules amounting to not less than 100 credits taken in Part 2.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    (i) Re-submission of failed assignments by 1 August.
    (ii) Coursework which already bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more will be carried forward. Students are allowed to resubmit coursework on the same topic as for a previous attempt, and coursework which had previously been submitted late can be re-submitted for a second attempt. If circumstances warrant it, a single, longer piece of coursework might be set instead of the two normally required essays. It should also be noted that re-submitted coursework should be sent in by e-mail, not on Blackboard.

    Last updated: 6 December 2012

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