The United Nations - PO555

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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5 15 (7.5)







This module explores the origins, evolution and role of the United Nations (UN) in world politics. The aim is to understand how and why states and other actors participate in the UN. The module further explores the extent to which the United Nations is able to achieve its stated goals of maintaining peace and security, achieving cooperation to solve key international problems, and promoting respect for human rights. The module examines the work of key UN organs, agencies, and member states in a variety of issue areas, with the aim of critically assessing the successes, challenges, and failures of the United Nations.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

50% Coursework - Three Moodle quizzes (10%), Essay, 2500 words (40%)
50% Exam

Indicative reading

Thakur, Ramesh. The United Nations, Peace and Security: From Collective Security to the Responsibility to Protect. 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Weiss, Thomas G. and Sam Daws, Eds. The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
Mingst, Karen A., Margaret P. Karns and Alynna J. Lyon. The United Nations in the 21st century. Dilemmas in World Politics. 5th edition (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2017).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, a successful student will be able to:
- Understand the reasons for the historic growth in international organisations.
- Understand the historical evolution of the UN system and its precursors in the twentieth century.
- Appreciate the diversity and scope of UN activities in world politics.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the UN in regulating the use of force.
- Critically assess theoretical perspectives on international organisation.
- Assess the significance of international organisations in world politics.

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