Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module SGIA46715: Theoretical Approaches to Global Governance

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA46715: Theoretical Approaches to Global Governance

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The main goal of this module is to provide students with a better understanding of the breadth and substance of international organizations and governance arrangements that exist in the international system, and help students to develop the tools necessary to analyze the multitude of roles these institutions and processes play in international policy-making.


  • The module’s content will explore: a) the historical genesis of international organizations and transnational governance institutions; b) different theoretical explanations of their current evolution; and c) different theories of their impact on global politics.
  • The module will help students to develop an advanced understanding of the complex historical path that has brought into existence the current system of international and transnational organizations and institutions.
  • It will explore how economic, political and social changes connected to the recent phase of globalization have affected the shape of these institutions and organization.
  • It will also investigate the role and impact that such organization and institutions have and how they affect the global political landscape.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • SSK1: an advanced knowledge of the contested theories of the genesis, development and impact of international organizations and global governance institutions;
  • SSK3: an advanced knowledge of the main theories used to explain the political and economic drivers of globalization;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • SSS1: to develop the ability to analyse complex topics in political science and international relations broadly construed and to do so on the basis of directed and independent learning;
  • SSS2: to develop the technical, and qualitative research skills necessary to pursue research in political science and international relations;
  • SSS3: to carry out research in political science and international relations through independent work;
  • SSS4: to weigh critically qualitative and quantitative evidence in social and political analysis.
Key Skills:
  • KS1: the ability to think critically and creatively and to argue coherently;
  • KS2: the ability to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to discriminate and use judgement;
  • KS3: the ability to organise data, abstract meaning from information and share knowledge at an advanced level;
  • KS4: the ability to communicate effectively across specialised subject areas in political science and international relations both orally and through written work.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be taught and learn through self-guided learning, lectures, class discussion, and seminars.
  • Students are taught through one-hour lectures, followed by one-hour seminars. Each lecture will introduce the students to the key theoretical approaches or data relevant to the theme of the lecture. The lectures will be tailored to accommodate the differential knowledge and disciplinary skills of different cohorts and to make sure that students approach subsequent seminars with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.
  • The lectures will be followed by one-hour seminars during which students are required to present the weekly material to their peers. During seminars students are also encouraged to explore the lecture content in greater detail and to identify areas in which they require particular guidance, for example on further reading. The seminars will enable students to develop their abilities to conduct research, to communicate, to present theoretical alternatives and data, and to develop their own argumentation skills. Class discussion encourages background reading, contributing to the students’ independent learning. It will further allow students the opportunity to exchange ideas, to explore issues and arguments that interest or concern them in greater depth, and to receive feedback from both the group and the lecturer on their own arguments and understanding.
  • Students will be assessed through a final 3000 words essay. The essay formally tests skills of synthesis, analysis and critical evaluation with reference to material drawn from the module. It tests students’ ability to formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing (within an exam context). Exams indirectly test students’ ability to use sophisticated techniques of information retrieval and management, and to manage their time effectively. Each student will also be assessed on their ability to orally present their work through group presentations at the end of term. Students will receive collective feedback (i.e. feedback for the group presentation) from the MSc Global Politics teaching staff (the reference here is to teaching staff responsible for the delivery of the core modules). Assessed presentations provide students with the opportunity to show their skills in synthetizing the content of the directed reading assigned on a weekly basis and to show that they can organize their ideas in a coherent and effective way. The assessment of presentations is crucial in determining the students’ ability to communicate their ideas orally.
  • Students will receive written feedback on formative work in all core modules to enable them to assess their understanding of the material before the examination. The formative work will consist in a short essay during the first part of the Michelmas and Easter terms (depending on when the modules are delivered) and of formative feedback on the weekly formative presentations.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 9 1 per week 1 hour 9
Seminars 9 1 per week 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 132
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 90%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 10%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group presentation 25-35 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

Essay 2000 words. Presentation 10-15 minutes

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University