IB Global Politics (HL & SL)

The 21st century is characterised by rapid global change and increasing interconnectedness. Pupils leaving Wellington now enter an even more globalised education and job market.  This course studies how our globalised world functions.  We study the key political questions. How is power exercised in today’s globalised world and what is the nature of today’s world order? How do we manage peace and conflict? How is development best achieved and sustained? How are human rights best upheld and crimes against humanity prevented or punished?

This course is at the heart of an IB education – pupils learn about how the world around them is managed, how nations work together and clash with each other, how development and human rights can improve the world around us and what it means to be a global citizen.

The course includes a mix of political theory and contemporary case studies. The teaching focuses on developments in the last 10 years, but historical context is also considered.

Wellington was one of 15 schools across the world participating in the first phase of the Global Politics pilot course. This brand new IB course focused on world politics and international relations.  By September 2015, Global Politics had been rolled out worldwide as a mainstream IB course, with over 50 schools across the world participating. Wellington has been in a unique position, actively developing this course over the last four years, and is a leading IB school in the field of global politics.

The number of pupils taking IB Global Politics at Wellington has continued to grow, reflecting increased popularity of the subject and student engagement; 22 students currently in the lower sixth are split into two sets, with all but five studying higher level. Examination results have been excellent, with 97% of our students since 2014 achieving Levels 6 and 7, and 57% achieving Level 7. The Department also hosts the Wellington College Global Politics Conference, with its third iteration having taken place in November 2018. Previous speakers have included Lord Malloch Brown, Baronness Chakrabarti, the Rt. Hon. Rory Stewart MP, and Tim Marshall, author of Prisoners of Geography and Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls. In setting high expectations for students, Global Politics at Wellington is of immense interest and benefit to those with an open mind and curiosity about the world around them.

Course Structure

There are four core units – two studied in each year.

Unit 1 – Power, Sovereignty and International Relations:

Theories of power. Superpowers and balance of power. Hard and soft power.  Economic and military power. Fragile states (Somalia, Afghanistan) and rising states (Brazil, India, China). Intergovernmental organisations – the UN, European Union.  The role of NGOs (Red Cross, Amnesty, Greenpeace). Global governance.

Unit 2 – Human Rights:

The UN Universal Declaration. Shifting conceptions of human rights. Geneva Conventions. War crimes and genocide.  International Criminal Court. Human rights advocacy. Regional and national enforcement of human rights.

Unit 3 – Development:

Models of development. Measuring development. Factors that prohibit and promote development (social, political, economic). Sustainable development.

Unit 4 – Peace and Conflict:

Types of conflict (territorial / ideological). Causes of conflict (greed vs grievance).  Manifestations of conflict.  Conflict resolution.

Higher Level Extension

Higher Level pupils additionally produce two 10 minute presentations on a case study relating to a global political challenge.

Topics include: Migration; Culture and Identity; Poverty; Health and Disease; International Security; Environment and Sustainability.


Paper One: (source based) SL & HL 1 hour 15 mins

Paper Two: (essay based) SL: 2 questions 1hr 45 mins. HL: 3 questions 2hrs 45 mins

Coursework: One 2000-word fieldwork report on a global politics issue (SL and HL), two recorded presentations each on a contemporary case study or issue in global politics (HL only).

Syllabus links:

See the IB specification for more information


Global Politics is a subject that should appeal to pupils who take an active interest in current affairs. A good standard of written English is essential to success in both the examination and the coursework elements of the assessment. Some of the skills needed are similar to those you may have developed when studying History or other Humanities subjects earlier in your school career (e.g. essay writing, data response). Global Politics combines well with subjects such as English, History, Economics and Modern Languages. Those opting to pursue Higher Level courses in a number of non-humanities subjects might consider taking this course as a complimentary subject. Pupils taking up the Subject in the Lower Sixth will normally be expected to have achieved at least a grade 8 in GCSE English and at least one other Humanities subject (e.g. History, Geography, or Religious Studies).

Further information: Mr Paul Dunne pcad@wellingtoncollege.org.uk