Global Studies (GLST) 440

Global Governance and Law (Revision 3)

GLST 440 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. A prior course in international studies or political science is recommended. Note that this is a senior level course in the social sciences and as such, students are expected to have advanced critical thinking and writing skills.

Precluded Course: GLST 440 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 3 different disciplines—GOVN 540, GOVN 440 and POLI 440. GLST 440 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for GOVN 540, GOVN 440 or POLI 440.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Global Studies Home

GLST 440 has a Challenge for Credit option.


Global Studies 440: Global Governance and Law provides the tools and concepts relevant to understanding how practices of governance function in contemporary societies and toward what ends. It overviews some of the central debates on global governance and international law, especially in regard to violence and the use of force, human rights, economic transactions, and the environment. A number of key questions are discussed in relation to these debates. What is governance for? Where does accountability lie? How does law function? Who is being governed? Who participates in governance? Students will gain a broad understanding of some of the issues and potentialities for governance and law in global politics. The course does not assume that students already have a background in global governance and law, however, it provides a sophisticated introduction to some of the key concepts and how those concepts can be applied to contemporary practices.

The course is divided into four parts. The first part explores different approaches to explaining law and governance at the global level. It also reviews the development of law and governance processes and institutions at the global level and the factors that influenced these developments. The second part covers global legal governance and the use of violence, and the relationship of the UN and International Criminal Tribunals to the laws of war. The third part examines the expansion of international law into new areas, such as the development of international agreements and legal instruments to protect such things as human rights and the environment. The fourth part explores law and governance in the economic realm; it reviews the major financial institutions, their origins, and the sources of law in these areas. It also explores the impact of global social movements on the key multilateral economic institutions that govern the global political economy: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. In addition, it critically evaluates how theoretical formulations regarding global governance impact differently the Global South, as they may perpetuate neocolonial practices. In GLST 440 students develop a sophisticated understanding of the intellectual terrain of governance and law in a globalized world.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the significance of modern forms of state and global governance.
  • Analyze the challenges to the sovereign state system and the possibilities of legal governance in globalization.
  • Discuss the significance of global social movements in globalization and evaluate the different kinds of democracy that global social movements propose.
  • Discuss the interrelationship of the environment, gender, human rights, and social and economic wellbeing.
  • Analyze and evaluate how leadership across the various governance models influence and inform relationships, communications, and interactions.
  • From postcolonial and decolonial perspectives, critically evaluate the unequal participation of countries from the Global South in the decision-making and practices of global governance.
  • Interpret textual, visual, and digital content using a critical analysis lens to identify and problematize unequal power relations in global governance and international law.


Part I: The Politics and History of International Law and Global Governance

  • Unit 1: Governance, Governmentality, and Globalization
  • Unit 2: The Structure and Foundations of Global Governance
  • Unit 3: The History and Evolution of International Law
  • Unit 4: The International Law and Global Governance Nexus

Part II: Governing the Use of Force through Law

  • Unit 5: Law and Ethics on the Use of Force
  • Unit 6: International Institutions, Legal Instruments, and War

Part III: The Expansion of International Law and Global Governance

  • Unit 7: Protecting and Promoting Human Rights
  • Unit 8: Environmental Governance

Part IV: Contesting Global Governance

  • Unit 9: Multilateral Economic Institutions and Global Social Movements
  • Unit 10: The Global South: Postcolonial and Decolonial Approaches to Governance


To receive credit for GLST 440, you must submit all six of the required course assignments and complete them to the satisfaction of your tutor. To receive credit for the course you must achieve an overall course grade of D (50 percent) or better. The weighting of the assignments are outlined below.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Theory Proposal 5%
Assignment 2: Theory Paper 15%
Assignment 3: Concept Paper 20%
Assignment 4: Research Proposal 10%
Assignment 5: Research Paper 30%
Assignment 6: Creative Project 20%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


GLST 440 taught by a combination of online materials, including a Study Guide, journal articles and book chapters, and academic support.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

Your final grade in this course is based on the grades you achieve on four written assignments and one final research paper. To receive credit for this course, you must achieve a composite course grade of 50 per cent. The chart below summarizes the course activities and the credit weight associated with each of them.

To receive credit for the GLST 440 challenge registration, you must complete all required components, and achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Theory Paper 10%
Concepts Paper 10%
Research Paper 40%
Challenge Exam 40%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, October 14, 2020.

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