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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Model United Nations (PLIT10155)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryModel United Nations will teach students about the United Nations and its negotiation processes in a simulation environment. Each student researches a country's political positions and learns to represent these in formal speeches and informal negotiations while following standard UN conference protocol. Upon completing the course, students will be able to evaluate and articulate different countries' positions, know the structures and processes of the United Nations, analyse issues from a member state perspective, and understand and competently use the rules of procedure, diplomatic protocol, and negotiating techniques common to UN delegates.
Course description For over 70 years, simulations of the United Nations have increased awareness and knowledge of UN institutions and processes and brought together students from all continents. The Model UN course is designed to acquaint students with the operations of, and issues affecting, the United Nations through the study of political positions of member states. Students research their chosen country's political positions and learn to represent these in negotiations while following standard UN conference protocol.

The course develops a deeper understanding of the UN itself and the challenges it faces, but also of the dynamics of how member states interact with each other and the institution. Because it is a simulation course at its core, students will role-play diplomats engaging in formal and informal negotiations, and thus build core soft skills such as background research, speechwriting, public speaking, negotiation, and grounded improvisation. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to evaluate and articulate different countries' foreign policies, know the structures and procedures of the United Nations, analyse issues currently before the UN from a member state perspective, and understand and competently use the rules of procedure, diplomatic protocol, and negotiating techniques common to UN delegates.

Half of the weekly sessions will consist of simulation exercises, during which we follow conference protocol as students hold speeches representing 'their' country and engage in informal negotiations with others on a predetermined topic or react to previously unknown crisis situations.

The other half of the sessions will prepare the simulations by teaching students the rules of procedure, basics of speechwriting, writing of position papers, and negotiation techniques, among other topics.

The course does not require prior experience with Model UN simulations.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the listed pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the course organiser.

Knowledge acquired in the following courses will be highly beneficial for students, but is not required: Theories of International Relations, International Political Economy, Bargaining and Negotiation in International Relations.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least four Politics/IR courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). Only university/college level courses will be considered.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Learning Portfolio consisting of:
Substantive speeches: Two short formal speeches outlining a country's position towards the substantive topics discussed in the simulations. Each speech max. 300 words.
Position paper: A paper explaining a country's official position towards the substantive topics, written to be available to other delegates. Max. 1500 words.
Strategy paper: Paper outlining a country's negotiation strategy on each substantive topic, written in the style of a confidential internal briefing paper. Max. 750 words.
Draft resolution: A draft outcome document that represents the best possible outcome for a country, to be used as a basis for negotiations. Max. 750 words.
Students will prepare the components of the portfolio as the course progresses, during which they will be treated as formative assessments. They then have the chance to revise these for the final submission. The final mark is based on the portfolio as a whole, with each component roughly weighted according to its word length.
Feedback Guidance for students to prepare their portfolios will be issued during the seminars. Feedback for the portfolio components will be provided in-class through group discussions led by the course organizer and peer-to-peer work. Written feedback for the entire portfolio will be returned after the end of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the structure and processes of the United Nations and its decision-making procedures.
  2. Research, evaluate, and concisely articulate state policies towards major global challenges negotiated at the United Nations.
  3. Hold formal speeches and engage in informal negotiations with other students while representing the policies of a specific country.
  4. Understand and use the rules of procedure of international conference diplomacy and aspects of diplomatic protocol.
  5. Employ mediation and negotiation techniques suited to multilateral contexts.
Reading List
Black, M. (2008). No-Nonsense Guide to the United Nations. New Internationalist.

Fasulo, L. (2009). An Insider's Guide to the UN. Yale University Press.

Gareis, S. (2012). The United Nations: An Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan.

Turunc, K. (2009). The Winning Delegate - An Insider's Guide to Model United Nations. iUniverse Publishing.

United Nations (2020). The United Nations Guide to Model UN. United Nations Publishing.

Weiss, T. / Daws, S. (2018). The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations. Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Create, identify, and evaluate options in order to solve complex problems.
Analyse facts and situations and apply creative thinking to develop the appropriate solutions.
Conduct research and enquiry into relevant issues through research design, the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, synthesising, and reporting.
Recognise and address ethical dilemmas, social responsibility, and sustainability issues, applying ethical and their own/organisational values to situations and choices.
Have an ability to persuade, negotiate and influence others.
Have an ability to work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.
Using skills in networking and persuasion.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Patrick Theiner
Course secretaryMr Ian McClory
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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