International relations

NGOs in World Politics

Module code: L2067S
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay, Coursework

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.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify, understand and evaluate a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of NGO activity.
  • Investigate empirical practices of NGOs and relate them to theoretical accounts of NGO activity in world politics.
  • Conduct an empirically and theoretically informed written analysis of NGO activity in world politics.