Global Politics

Standard Level

Higher Level


General tips

Memorise Case Studies, which can be applied across several key concepts. Especially in Paper 2 and Paper 1 Question 4 (which make up the bulk of your grade), you need to demonstrate your understanding of political theories, but then show how these apply in real life using case studies. Good case studies that apply across several theories means that you can get the most out of your memorising. Also, as this is a Global Politics course, make sure you use case studies from across the world. This will show the examiners that you have a good knowledge of studies, and make your arguments appear as though they apply world-wide.

Also, make the most of the HL Extension presentations, which are in themselves case studies. Since your peers will be giving you case studies that they become experts in, asking them questions and taking notes during their presentations will make revising for exams much more efficient.

In studying for my IB exams, I made a quizlet of case studies, which are available to patreons. These case studies are a collection of the best examples I found and used in my own essay writing. Alternatively, everyone can also access the Global Politics I wrote with some friends (and which I am continuing to add to), which includes case studies and how they relate to different theories.


The Realist vs. Liberalist divide is key, since it is a debating point in basically all questions across the units. Since you need to show good understanding of your arguments and counterclaims, as well as be able to evaluate the theories presented to you, making a liberalist argument your main point, then using realist points as counterclaims (or vice versa) will really show a good grasp for theory and evaluation.

Often, I would write “It has been argued […], but it must be duly noted that […]” to introduce a good counterclaim. Similarly, my thesis would often look more complex and nuanced than some of my classmates, as it would include a counterclaim in the thesis. I would often write, “Although liberalists would suggest […], the reality of global politics dictates that states, as the primary actors of Global Politics tend to […]”.

Not merely acknowledging, but also showing your understanding of counterclaims will make your own arguments seem more convincing - both in exams and in real life!


Use Social Media - For me, Global Politics doesn’t need a textbook to explain real life examples because it happens all around us. So many current, real-life case studies are available on social media, which presents several perspectives of the same story. In a way, these are often primary sources, which give a deep insight to the happenings in the world. Following or liking news pages (eg. BBC, Al jazeera, Vox, Fox News) from a variety of locations and political leanings allows you to get a good picture of what is happening in the world. In preparation for Paper 2, I would often be on Facebook, scrolling through news articles, sharing some I really cared about and clicking news I really found fascinating. Also, in preparation for Paper 1, I went on Instagram, which contains so many political images. I would make my own Paper 1 style questions about the images on the UN Environment Instagram, or the BBC Instagram. right before mock exams, I frequently sat in front of my desk with my IPad set to Instagram, and a pen and paper to take notes!


Book Suggestions

The Tragedy of Great Power Politicsby John Mearshimer was a really good read. Though quite lengthy, it is written in fairly readable English, and gives many, many good case studies to support his point. Because Mearshimer is a structural realist, he provides an invaluable insight into the limitations of liberalist theories, as well as several strong case studies to support his view that war is always lurking due to conflicting interests of states.

The first few chapters give very historical examples, which I hear are useful for History students, but for those that just take Global Politics, especially at HL, the last few chapters are especially enlightening, as they give very strong case studies to support the realist case. His main argument, that China’s rise will lead to violence, is also worth reading, because it gives a strong realist argument about the nature of present politics.

Long Walk to Freedom”, which is the autobiography of Nelson Mandela was really interesting to read, because unlike a political theory textbook, it showcases a personal story. It is largely related to Global Politics, as it shows the progress of Human Rights over the years, as well as portraying Development in South Africa, from not only an economic, but also a human perspective. There are several relevant case studies mentioned in the autobiography, including the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”, which aimed at positive peace through resolving the underlying tensions between ethnic groups in South Africa at the time. Chaired by Mandela’s close friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (a fellow Nobel Laureate mentioned several times in his autobiography), this commission is a powerful example of an arguably somewhat successful attempt at positive peace. This commission, as we learn from the autobiography, is one example of a larger attempt by Mandela to resolve underlying tensions inherent apartheid.

One part of the book that stood out for me was the effect of the soft power of the international community in convincing South African authorities to release Mandela. As I am especially interested in classical realism, this was a strong counterexample to my own view. This may also be a strong example to show the power of the international community in upholding Human Rights, even if at times sluggish.