Events Calendar
Nov 8 - Nov 30
11:00 - 13:00
The Modern Commonwealth: 1949 to 2018 and beyond
short courses

Dates: 9, 16, 23, 30 November 2018

Fridays: 11.00 – 13.00

Course code: 18TON355

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Download information sheet (PDF 130KB)

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This course explores the Commonwealth's background and structure, policy-making and the Commonwealth 'in action'. The course will also include matters of particular relevance to the UK: the Commonwealth and Brexit, and the 2018-2020 UK Chair in Office.

Week 1: Introduction

  • A brief history of Post-World War II International Relations
  • Organisational structure of the Commonwealth: Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Foundation, and Commonwealth of Learning
  • Notions of 'Commonwealth Family' and 'People's Commonwealth

Week 2: Policy making in the Commonwealth

  • Commonwealth Charter
  • Senior Officials' Meetings
  • Ministerial Meetings
  • Conferences of Heads of Government (CHOGMs): 
    • Meetings of civil society and professional organisations in different fora - Youth, People's, Women's and Business 
    • Meeting of the Committee of the Whole (COW): Commonwealth Secretariat
    • Foreign Ministers' meeting
    • Retreat of Heads
    • Communique

Week 3: Commonwealth in action

  • Commonwealth Games (Commonwealth Games Federation)
  • Articulating the voice of 'small' states; equal status with 'large' states
  • Pursuing global goals and agendas (opposing Apartheid; climate change; the Blue Charter)
  • Building democratic institutions - Election Monitoring, Parliamentary work, and enforcing norms through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group 
  • Promoting prosperity: trade facilitation, 'Commonwealth Premium', technology-enabled skills development, educational development, Youth development, Gender mainstreaming, and nurturing Civil Society resilience
  • Building networks and a network of networks – professions, advocacy groups, (semi) official organisations;
  • Promoting local, national, regional and Commonwealth-wide interactions

Week 4:

  • Commonwealth and Brexit:  pre- and post-Referendum debates, current trajectories and potential future developments
  • Discussion of potential legacy institutions (2018-20 UK Chair in Office)
  • Commonwealth Development Bank for projecting Commonwealth's 'hard power' (economic resilience)
  • Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation/House to project its 'soft power' (democracy, culture and sports)
  • End of Course Overview

Suggested reading

Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

Civil Paths to Peace: Report of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding

Week 4:

General Resources

Additional information

This course is suitable for all, no prior knowledge is required. It allows you to spend time exploring a subject for interest, among like-minded people, without formal assessment. 

Intended learning outcomes

On completing the course, the participants will:

  • become familiar with the history and organisation of the Commonwealth
  • develop a good understanding of International Relations
  • enhance their inter-cultural understanding of different cultures, communities and countries
  • advance their personal skills in analysing data and arguments, and
  • be able to engage with debates on Brexit and the Commonwealth based on facts and figures.

About the tutor

Dr Balasubramanyam (aka Bala) Chandramohan is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and has previously taught extra-mural/continuing education, undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students at different universities in Britain, Continental Europe, Asia and Africa. Dr Chandra has served as a consultant to Commonwealth Secretariat, and as a member of the Civil Society Advisory Committee of the Commonwealth Foundation. He has also contributed his expertise to other Commonwealth organisations, including the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Royal Commonwealth Society. Additionally, he served as a Regional Assessor on the Chevening (UK) Scholarships Reading Committee.


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