Global Politics

Course Description

The 21st century is characterized by rapid change and increasing interconnectedness, impacting individuals and societies in unprecedented ways and creating complex global political challenges. Global politics is an exciting, dynamic subject that draws on a variety of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, reflecting the complex nature of many contemporary political issues. The study of global politics enables students to critically engage with different and new perspectives and approaches to politics in order to comprehend the challenges of the changing world and become aware of their role in it as active global citizens.

The Diploma Programme global politics course explores fundamental political concepts such as power, equality, sustainability and peace in a range of contexts. It allows students to develop an understanding of the local, national, international and global dimensions of political activity and processes, as well as to explore political issues affecting their own lives. The course helps students to understand abstract political concepts by grounding them in real-world examples and case studies. It also invites comparison between such examples and case studies to ensure a wider and transnational perspective.

The core units of the course together make up a central unifying theme of “people, power and politics”. The emphasis on “people” reflects the fact that the course explores politics not only at a state level but also explores the function and impact of non-state actors, communities, groups and individuals. The concept of “power” is also emphasised as being particularly crucial to understanding the dynamics, tensions and outcomes of global politics. Throughout the course, issues such as conflict, migration or climate change are explored through an explicitly political lens: “politics” provide a uniquely rich context in which to explore the relationship between people and power.

Difference between HL and SL

Students of global politics at SL and HL are presented with a syllabus that has a common core. This common core consists of four compulsory units under the central unifying theme of “people, power and politics”. All SL and HL students are also required to undertake an engagement activity. In addition, HL students are also required, through a case studies approach, to explore two HL extension topics (global political challenges).

In summary:

SL and HL students study the four core units and undertake an engagement activity through a case studies approach, HL students also examine and evaluate two global political challenges, which by their nature are complex, contestable and interlinked; this provides further depth at HL.

Syllabus Outline

The programme consists of four core units, studied under the unifying theme of “people, power and politics”:

1. Power, sovereignty and international relations: the nature of power, the operation of state power in global politics, the function and impact of international organisations andnon-state actors in global politics, the nature and extent of interactions in global politics.

2. Human rights: nature and evolution of human rights, protection - monitoring – practice of human rights, debates surrounding human rights and their application.

3. Development: factors that may promote or inhibit development, pathways to development, debates surrounding development (globalisation, inequality, sustainability).

4. Peace and conflict: Contested meanings of peace, conflict and violence, causes and parties to conflict, evolution of conflict, conflict resolution.

At Higher Level, students study two of six global political challenges, researched and presented through a case-study approach:

  1. Environment
  2. Poverty
  3. Health
  4. Identity
  5. Borders
  6. Security

Course Objectives

Having followed the Diploma Programme course in Global Politics, students will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content.
  • Apply and analyse key political concepts to analyse contemporary political issues in a variety of contexts.
  • Demonstrate synthetic and evaluative abilities.
  • Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques. At Higher Level only, students are also expected to present ideas orally with clarity.

Course Assessment

The final Diploma grade in the subject is determined by two assessment components:

External Assessment

Paper 1 – a stimulus-based paper on one of the four core units, for both SL and HL students.
Paper 2 – an extended response paper based on all four core units, for both SL and HL students

Internal Assessment

a) 2,000 word written report on a political issue explored through engagement and research, for
both SL and HL students
b) Two recorded video oral presentations of two case studies chosen from two different HL topics
(at HL only).

Download the subject guide