How should Global Politics be understood as a social science, one that is primarily based in Political Science, but that is also highly interdisciplinary as it draws upon International Relations, Human Rights, and Peace & Conflict Studies? The course addresses this central question through five modular components, which are as follows:
Module 1: Introduction to Global Politics (4 credits).
Module 2: Visions of Global Politics (6.5 credits)
Module 3: The Sovereign State and Beyond (6.5 credits)
Module 4: Multi-level Governance and Transnational Policy (6.5 credits)
Module 5: Norms and Ideas in Global Politics (6.5 credits)
The first module, ‘Introduction to Global Politics’, offers a broad overview of the varied approaches to research covered within the programme, outlines what is meant by the field of ‘Global Politics’, as well as working to strengthen students’ core study skills to ensure they are better able to manage the programme.
The second module, ‘Visions of Global Politics’, seeks to unpack the historically and culturally conditioned world views that influence ways of conceptualizing issues pertaining to globalization; and how these themes can provide a critical and fresh understanding of what ‘Global Politics’ can mean and how it intersects with societal change on different unit levels, analysing key developments and concepts.
The third module, ‘The Sovereign State and Beyond’, focuses on the ‘nation state’ as a political concept, both as a theoretical and an empirical phenomena. Its emergence is commonly (though not uncontroversially) dated to the Treaties of Westphalia (1648), and has largely formed the basic unit of international politics for the last three centuries. However, its hegemony as a form of governance has varied in different parts of the world. Even in its original Western context, the notion of state sovereignty is increasingly being challenged by the pressures of globalization, transnational migration and new forms of governance through international organizations. This module examines the early emergence of the sovereign state and its characteristics; discusses the effect of globalization and international governance structures on sovereignty; and concludes by critically examining these concepts in the context of the 21st century world.
The fourth module, ‘Multi-level Governance and Transnational Policy’, focuses on phenomena such as policy convergence and policy transfer between different levels in the international system, e.g. from the local to regional or global levels, and the role of international organizations and transnational networks in their actualization. The module considers theories of cross-border policy mobility and contrasts orthodox rational-actor approaches with more critical interpretations that highlight power relations and the construction of knowledge. In addition, the course encourages students to recognise that their future careers may potentially involve a policy-influencing role (i.e. legislation, advocacy, providing expert-advice) and to think about how their current studies and knowledge operate as an ‘evidence base’ in the policy world.
The fifth module, ‘Norms and Ideas in Global Politics’, introduces students to two concepts central to much of the literature covered in the programme. Norms and ideas matter in global politics. Perhaps more so than at the national level because the lack of a clear authority means that questions of power and governance are much more contested. The precise role norms and ideas play is itself a highly debated question. Are they devices utilized by interest-driven actors to advance their particular objectives, or do they play a role in creating those interests which drive actors? Where do we place norms and ideas in our attempts to model political behaviour at the global level? This module approaches the role of norms and ideas in global politics from a broad perspective, asking what is meant by ‘norms’ and similar ideational phenomena and what they bring to our analysis of global politics. It also asks if the ideational domain can be truly separated from the material (e.g. economic distribution, military weapons, ecological depletion).
Where beneficial to the programme’s aims, the modules may run concurrently.