Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3261: Becoming an Actor in World Politics: International and Transnational Recognition

This module descriptor refers to the 2020/1 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Irene Fernandez-Molina (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


How does one become an actor in world politics? Who gets to be ‘someone’ and thereby engage in cooperation and conflict, diplomacy, global governance, resistance, lobbying, and so on? Recognition processes play a pervasive role in the emergence of what we consider as actors. The traditional central players of international relations, i.e. states, only become such by being formally recognised as sovereign by their sovereign peers. At the same time, beyond the letter of law, world politics is filled with multiple, less structured forms of transnational recognition that occur ‘across, between and over the state’ (Brincat 2017). This module will firstly expose you to the politics of international recognition surrounding processes of state formation, secessionism and the variety of cases of ‘contested’ or ‘de facto’ states which perform some state functions while lacking full international recognition. We also will investigate the problematic recognition of governments in situations such as coups d'état, civil wars, decolonisation conflicts and foreign occupation. The second part of the module will deal with transnational recognition of mostly non-state actors such as civil society organisations, social movements, civil resistance movements, national liberation movements, rebel groups, and parties to civil wars and other conflicts. The class will have the chance to choose the case studies that will be examined in depth in term 2. No pre-requisites or prior experience needed.

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