Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2109: International Organisations in a Contested World Order

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Stephane Baele (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module gives you a first encounter with international organizations and institutions, providing factual information and offering a theoretical toolbox to analyse them. While no pre-requisite or co-requisite modules are required, this modules is recommended for students willing to build a strong curriculum on the classic issues of International Relations.

At the 2020 horizon, the range of global challenges facing us has seemingly never been so wide, and their potential implications so profound: from climate change to trade and development, from terrorism to economic inequalities, from the worldwide “democratic recession” to the corrosion of the “chemical weapons taboo”, the list is long and anxiety high. Eyes – and hopes – are therefore turning to international institutions and organizations, which are precisely supposed to exist to foster cooperation, find solutions and ensure their implementation.

Yet should we really pay attention to, and place hopes in IOs? With nationalism on the rise across the globe, do they still matter in international politics (have they ever)? With accusations of serving the rich/powerful and further cementing a contested colonial legacy, ar they really part of the solution to our most enduring problems? Are they really the stable entities with their own agency and agenda that we often think of (“the EU”, “the UN”, etc.) or are they dispensable artefacts that merely crystallize temporary balances of power? This module will answer these and other similar questions, deploying the most relevant theoretical tools to understand the most important puzzles related to IOs: their origins, their structuration, their efficiency and impact, the mechanisms sustaining them or undermining them, etc. A range of relevant cases will be used to illustrate these discussions.

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