PO3UNI-The UN and International Order

Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:6
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Georgina Holmes

Email: g.holmes@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module examines the evolution of the UN and its key institutions (in particular the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretariat), assessing the ways in which their roles have developed. It also analyses key issues and practices, such as decolonisation, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacebuilding, sanctions, and terrorism, and assesses the impact of the UN's involvement.

Aims:

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students are expected to be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge of the structure of the UN, as well as its key practices since 1945;
- demonstrate an understanding of the evolving role of the UN in international order since 1945;
- demonstrate an understanding of the factors underlying changes in international order;
- apply their findings to understand the current role of the UN, and to evaluate competing theoretical accounts of its role;
- compare and evaluate the impact of the UN on international order with alternative institutional frameworks;
- to enhance students' critical and analytical skills through engaging with a diverse and challenging theoretical and empirical literature and to demonstrate these in seminar discussions, presentations, essays and examinations.

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to develop:

- critical and reflective thinking;
- informed and critical approach to using primary and secondary sources, including web-based information, through preparation of all coursework;
- familiarity with UN documents and the UN Bibliographic Information System;
- confidence in and effectiveness of oral and written communication through seminar discussions, presentations and essays.

Outline content:
The United Nations (UN) has been one of the most ambitious attempts to collectively address challenges to security. Marginalised during most of the Cold War, it has played a central role in addressing problems of war (both international and civil), development, terrorism, and the environment. This module examines the evolution of the UN and its key institutions (in particular the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretariat), assessing the ways in which their roles have developed. It also analyses key issues and practices, such as decolonisation, peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacebuilding, sanctions, and terrorism, and assesses the impact of the UN's involvement.

This module requires a thorough understanding of the international system, and students without a background in international relations might want to consult the module convenor in advance.

The module is divided into eight topics:

Autumn Term:

1. Theoretical Approaches to the United Nations
2. Principal organs of the UN: The Secretary Council
3. Principal organs of the UN: The General Assembly and the Secretariat
4. The UN and the Use of Force

Spring Term:

5. The UN and the Quest for Peace and Security
6. The UN and Development
7. The UN and Human Rights
8. The Challenges of UN Reform

Note that these topics are indicative only and are subject to change.

Summer Term:

Revision Classes.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is taught through eight one-hour lectures and eight corresponding 1.5 hour classes. In the classes, students will orally present on specified topics, followed by group discussion. Lectures will be given in weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7 of each term; seminars on the corresponding topic will be in weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8. Students will also submit one policy brief on a selected topic.

Students are expected to develop their knowledge of the subject through independent study combined with group work, which will inform the class discussions. The lectures will serve as an introduction into the literature and key issues.

Presentations, essays, and exams are designed not only to test students' knowledge and ability to think critically and analytically in a variety of environments, but also to reinforce independent study and to ensure a careful and judicious consideration of it. Presentations and policy briefs are also designed to enhance transferable skills. They should aim to communicate concise, critical analyses effectively and raise topics for the subsequent discussion. Students are encouraged to explore different presentation techniques and present freely from brief notes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 4 4
Seminars 6 6 2
Guided independent study 60 59 59
       
Total hours by term 70.00 69.00 61.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:

Students will write one 3,000 word essay on a selected topic (40%). Non-submitted essays will be awarded a mark of zero. Students will also write one 1,500 word policy brief on a selected topic (10%). Non-submitted briefs will be awarded a mark of zero. Visiting students will follow the same assessments but only those enrolled for the summer term will sit the examination. Those visiting students who are here for Autumn and Spring terms only but wish to gain full credits will also write a 4,000 word essay in place of the examination, to be submitted by the first day of the summer term. Visiting students who are only studying for half credits in Autumn and/or Spring terms will submit one 4,000 word essay in total.


Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • 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 for each working day (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.

    Length of examination:
    One three-hour examination.

    Requirements for a pass:
    University-wide rules apply.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Candidates who fail their final year normally have the right to be re-examined on one further occasion at the next opportunity. These candidates will not normally be eligible for Honours (ie., only a ‘Pass’ classification would be attainable). 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.

    Examination: Re-examination takes place in August/September of the same year.




    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:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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