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Introduction to International Organisations



Course title: Introduction to International Organizations
International politics is increasingly being shaped by international organizations. What role do these organizations play exactly? Are they only the servants of powerful states or do they also have influence autonomous of their member states? How are global power relations reflected in international organizations? How do international organizations work and how do they differ? In this course the role and functioning of international organizations in international politics are analyzed. While the focus will be on large and well-known organizations such as the United Nations (UN), lesser-known organizations (including regional organizations outside of Europe) will also being studied.

Course objectives

This course is a biweekly lecture that has two objectives. First, it provides students the basic understanding of the functioning and the activities of international organisations across a variety of issue areas in international politics. Second, it familiarizes students with the core academic debates about the role of international organisations and encourages them to think critically when evaluating the functioning and the activities of current international organisations.
Upon the successful completion of the course, the students should be able to:
1) Understand the historical development of international organizations
2) Obtaining knowledge and insight into the theory and practice of international organizations in international politics

Mode of instruction


Course Load

30 hours of classes
90 hours of reading and class preparation
20 hours to prepare for the final exam

Total: 140 hours (5 ECTS)

Assessment method

Multiple-choice exam (100%)

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Blackboard no later than the publication of the grades.


Course information will be accessible via Blackboard before the start of the course.

Reading list

The mandatory literature consists of:

  • Hurd, I. (2018). International Organizations. Politics, Law, Practice (3rd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Several articles available in the university’s library catalogue via a hyperlink on Blackboard.

The course reading list and the course syllabus will be posted on Blackboard before the start of the course.


See general information on tab 'Year 1'.

Timetable - courses and exams



Dr. Gisela Hirschmann