NGOs in World Politics (L2067S)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

There has been an enormous growth in the number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) active around the world, especially since the end of the Cold War. This module explores the significance of this trend, and asks what representations and practices of world politics are produced and reproduced by NGO activity:

  • are NGOs an appropriate form for promoting human rights and development in a post-Cold War world?
  • are they irresponsible and unaccountable, impinging on a state's ability to do its job?
  • Do they undermine local struggles for social justice or do they signal a move away from government and towards networked forms of governance?

This module will address a range of thinking about the role of NGOs in world politics. You will be required to identify, understand and critique ways of conceptualising NGO activity in world politics. The module is divided into three sections:

  • the history of NGOs
  • current issues regarding NGO activity
  • and conceptual approaches to the study of NGO activity.

Each week the module will focus on a particular NGO or related issue; you will learn about contemporary or historical forms of NGO activity and think critically about the significance of NGO activity to world politics.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Essay, Group presentation)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2022/23. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.