International Institutions and Global Governance

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
03 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This graduate module examines the institutions that govern international relations. The module is designed around the following question: Do international institutions promote international cooperation? In particular, the course analyses how formal and informal international institutions can help to overcome the main challenges for international cooperation and promote global governance.

To answer this question, the module relies on three pillars: First, it introduces a set of theories to help understanding cooperation among states. Second, it applies these theories to the analysis of the design and performance of international institutions. Finally, the last weeks focus on the effects of international institutions both on the behaviour of states, and on international markets.

By the end of the module, the students should be able to: (i) understand and identify the central problems for governance in an anarchic world; (ii) identify and explain key concepts for the analysis of international institutions; (iii) use theories to analyse the role of international institutions in world politics; (iv) demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills when analysing political phenomena.

Module aims

The main aim of this module is to teach students to think and write critically about international institutions using theories and methods of political science. Students will develop the ability to think and make reasoned arguments using positive theories and supported by the best available empirical evidence. They will also work on skills that support the production of their own research. These aims are achieved through a variety of teaching and learning strategies such as short lectures, in-depth seminar discussions, staggered assignments that allow the application of the feedback received, and independently produced assignments.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students should be able to:
1. Identify the main approaches, concepts, and methods employed in the study of international institutions;
2. Use theories to explain the nature, characteristics, and effects of international institutions;
3. Demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills when analysing political phenomena;
4. Contribute to the production of knowledge through constructive criticism of the literature and the work of peers;
5. Advance and justify research questions framed in the literature, and propose adequate research designs to address them;
6. Communicate ideas in different formats (written essays, poster elaboration and presentation).

Module information

Global governance and institutional complexity.
Skills development: How to read a political science academic paper
Theories: The puzzle of cooperation in an anarchic world
Why do countries use (formal or informal) institutions?
Skills development: How to choose and justify a research question
Participation in international institutions: Membership
Selection and compliance. Enforcement and sanctions
Skills development: Formulating testable hypotheses
Decision-making and performance of international institutions
Effects of international institutions on states: Socialization and diffusion
Skills development: How to deal with/incorporate feedback
Effects of international institutions on states: conditionality and rewards
Skills development: How to make a poster
Effects of international institutions on markets
Institutional change and death of international institutions
Skills development: Poster presentation

Learning and teaching methods

This is a 10-week module. This module will be delivered with a weekly interactive seminar, in person or virtual depending on circumstances. All materials will be available in electronic format at the beginning of the term, to make planning easier for students. All sessions will be preceded by a Moodle (very short) reading quiz to ensure meaningful participation and help students to keep up with the pace of the module, and the scaffolding of concepts and skills. Face-to-face teaching and discussions will be synchronously delivered for students not able to attend, and available after the session via Listen Again. Because this is a research-led taught module, but PGT students may have heterogenous abilities and previous experience, half of the sessions will devote some time to the development of useful skills to succeed in the module assignments – which are transferable to other modules and the dissertation. Weekly reading quizzes will encourage the gradual understanding of class materials and foster meaningful in-class participation. Students are encouraged (and expected) to submit questions electronically and to attend to academic support hours.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Reading quizzes     20% 
Coursework   Research Question    15% 
Coursework   Literature review and hypothesis    30% 
Coursework   Poster    35% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

Dr Adrian Florea
University of Glasgow
Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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