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Using case studies in the Global Politics for the IB Diploma course

My experience

I have been teaching IBDP Global Politics at an international school in Hong Kong since 2019, and the aspect I most enjoy is how skills that students develop in the course allow them to effectively engage with current global events. This makes the subject matter highly relevant and engaging for students, as they can directly apply what they are learning to the world around them.

Aims of interactives

The syllabus content can be very exciting, as it outlines lots of the fascinating topics that could be covered in the IBDP Global Politics course. However, the ‘Supporting Details’ column of the syllabus document, while informative about what content to teach, can also be quite intimidating – especially for teachers new to the course. This is because the syllabus provides suggestions for the topics to be taught (the “what”), but leaves the teacher to figure out the best teaching approaches for these topics (the “how”) on their own. I wanted to suggest a template for tackling the “how” in the interactive case studies that students, and teachers, could use to learn about the examples provided. This template can then be applied for learning about other topics from the course.

Explanation of format/sequencing of interactives

The sequence of activities used in the interactives is:


This slide introduces an example that could be used to cover the prescribed syllabus content. It includes a brief introductory paragraph about the topic and a link to a recommended website/resource to learn more.


This slide helps the student understand the key, general information about the example provided. The introductory paragraph models the kind of information students should include when introducing an actor/theory/institution in an essay, before going into a specific example. The key terms are defined to aid understanding.


This slide provides guidance on how a lesson could be structured so students can gather the required information to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic. By clicking on the hotspots, students are given clear, scaffolded instructions on what specific information they should research.


This slide allows students to apply the knowledge they have gained from working through the activities on the interactive. Depending on the topic, the 'Hint' hotspots either: a) provide a suggested structure for the students' written response, or b) offer an exemplar paragraph response to serve as a model. The goal is to guide students through a structured process of introduction, discovery, research, and practice to build their understanding of the topic.

Why I’ve chosen the case studies

When deciding which case studies to use for the interactives, I wanted to emphasise the 'global' nature of the subject by including examples from many different countries across the world. An aspect of the course that I really enjoy is helping students see issues from different perspectives. For example, China has been criticised for its own human rights record, but having lived and worked in the China region for more than a decade, I thought it would be interesting to show its perspective on how other countries have also fallen short on human rights issues.

Similarly, I feel it is important for students to understand that it is not just war-torn or developing countries that require ‘peacebuilding’ efforts. Western countries that most would consider as ‘peaceful’ also have their own internal conflict challenges. An example of this is addressed in one of the Peace and Conflict case studies in the eBook.

Global Politics for the IB Diploma is out now in eBook and paperback and is developed in cooperation with the International Baccalaureate.

Robin Doherty is Head of IBDP Global Politics/IGCSE Global Perspectives and Extended Essay Coordinator at Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong and wrote the interactive case studies in our Global Politics for the IB Diploma eBook.

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