The United Nations in the Twentieth Century - HI6071

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The United Nations was established by the victorious states of the Second World War in 1945. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations declared that the organisation's aim is to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’; promote fundamental human rights and the rights of nations large and small; maintain international law and promote social progress. This module will explore how successfully the organisation has met its founding ideals. In doing so, it will consider major issues that faced the United Nations during the first fifty years of its existence. It will examine how policy was formulated in the committee rooms of the General Assembly and the Security Council. It will then explore how effective such policy proved in the context of the Cold War and the changing post-colonial environment of the late twentieth century.


Contact hours

Weekly three-hour seminars.

Method of assessment

40% Coursework:
1 gobbets exercise (2,000 words): 10%
3 essays of 3,000 words: 10% each

60% Examination:
2 examinations, each of two hours and worth 30% each: 1) Source Analysis paper and 2) a paper of standard essay questions

Indicative reading

CARPENTER, T. G. (ed) (2001) Delusions of Grandeur: The United Nations and Global Intervention. Washington DC: Cato Institute.

FINKELSTEIN, L. S. (ed) (1990), Politics in the United Nations System. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

GARIES, S. B. (2012) The United Nations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

KARNS, M. P. and MINGST, K. A. (2009) International Organizations. New York: Lynne Rienner Publishers inc.

KI-MOON, B. and AHTISAARI, M. (2015) The United Nations at 70. New York: Rizzoli International Publishers.

KENNEDY, P. (2007) The Parliament of Man: the past, the present, and the future of the United Nations. London: Penguin.

MAZOWER, M. (2013) No Enchanted Palace. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

MEISLER, S. (2011) United Nations: A History. New York: Grove Press.

RYAN, S. (200) The United Nations and International Politics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

WEISS T. G. and DAWS S. (eds) (2007), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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