The United Nations - POLI5550

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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.


Contact hours

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

Method of assessment

50% Coursework - Essay, 2500 words (40%)
50% Exam (2hrs)

Reassessment: 100% coursework

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 successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the role of the United Nations in international relations from its creation to the present.

2. Understand and critically assess the role of the UN in the area of human rights.

3. Appreciate the diversity and scope of UN activities in world politics.

4. Critically assess changes in how the UN responds to its core objective of maintaining international peace and security.


  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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