This course looked promising, but turned out to be very disappointing.
1. The structure is poor. Individual units of the course grouped together very different topics, skipping from one to another with no clear line of argument. In a single unit, for example, we had a series of maps showing in quick succession: the countries which possess nuclear weapons, the main sites of Iran's nuclear programme, the spread of Ebola, population density in Africa, a diagramme of carbon sequestration, the territorial waters of the Gaza strip, natural gas discoveries in the Levant basin, distribution of the Tuareg in the Sahara, Kurdish zones in the Middle East, distribution of Kipchak (Tatar) languages, Aymara language area, and the distribution of Quechua dialects. That is in one single unit, with barely a few sentences to link one topic to the next: and there are around 15 units per week. Some subjects were repeated in different weeks, and progression from one week to another was not clear. No clear picture emerged of the different processes involved in international relations.
2. The course relies heavily on subjective judgements and sweeping statements: examples are "the world is falling apart", "criminals are no longer afraid of punishment", "Hardly anything ever comes out of [summit] meetings except despondency [...] and this discredits any attempt at diplomacy". In other words, everything is getting worse. More objective analysis would be useful.
3. Presentation is uninspiring. Each video consists of a "talking head" presentation in French by the same lecturer, in front of a slide show combining text, maps, graphs and photos. The maps and graphs in particular are very blurred, so if you want to study them in detail you have to find the originals. Most of them are available on line, but it would have been nice if the course team had either provided links to the websites, or clear images (eg a set of slides to download).
4. The course is supposed to be in English, but was obviously prepared in French. English transcripts and subtitles are provided for the videos, and French texts of the soundtrack of all the videos and articles are also provided. On several occasions I referred to the French because the English was incomprehensible, and I found that there were quite a few translation errors. These included failure to quote correctly from the English text of official documents. The text in the slide shows which form part of the videos is exclusively in French, as are many of the maps and tables used both in the videos and the articles.
FutureLearn seems to have greatly expanded the number of MOOCs that it is offering recently: it looks as though it is not checking their quality as carefully as it should before releasing them.
Note: the Certificate of Achievement costs $94, rather than $49 as currently shown by Class Central.
Update: to judge by the end of course email, the team are taking account of the criticisms that were made by several participants in the comments sections, and plan to improve things for the next run of the course.