Universiteit Leiden

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International Studies (BA)

Globalisation is shaping the world in which we live. In the BA International Studies, you have the opportunity to study one of eight world regions within the context of global interactions. At the same time, you will learn a key language of your chosen region and acquire skills that will prove to be highly valuable for your future career.

Bachelor International Studies at Leiden University

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Become an expert on the world region of your choice

The International Studies programme will provide you with the tools to explore and analyse the forces of globalisation and their impact around the world. In doing so, you will acquire in-depth knowledge of one of eight world regions and learn one of the key languages. Our multifaceted approach will allow you to interpret and analyse the world from a humanities perspective. In order to be able to do this, you will explore the historical and cultural background of the region of your choice, as well as its political and economic developments.

Maria Barroso


Maria Barroso

"International Studies really was the best choice for me! I was expecting a solid programme that looks beyond the borders of politics, history and the economy, but I was surprised to discover that it goes a lot further than that."

Dr. Paula Jordão


Dr. Paula Jordão

"With students from around 50 nationalities, the classroom is truly international, which in itself is a unique study experience! By combining a broad basis of knowledge and a specialisation in a particular world region, you learn to think at an international level, without losing sight of what is happening in that region. In sum, you learn how to be an engaged world citizen!"

Boris Kowalski


Boris Kowalski

"International Studies has proved to be a good choice. It gave me insights about global developments and taught me to always approach problems, or any issues, from various perspectives. The programme is true to its name, the international aspect is very strong. Not in the least because of the many nationalities: both students and lecturers come from all over the world. As a student, you are really part of an international community, which makes for an interesting experience. You learn a lot about different cultures, just from working and socialising with each other. I also liked the hands-on mentality: learning by doing. In this way, you get a lot of practical experience, such as the internship I did at the Dutch Consulate-General in St Petersburg."

What will you learn

International Studies is a multidisciplinary study programme, which means that you will use different disciplinary perspectives to analyse the world. These disciplinary perspectives of International Studies are culture & language, history, politics and economics and they are crucial for a well-rounded understanding of globalisation. You will be taught by lecturers with backgrounds in those disciplines, which will allow you to acquire a broad foundation in the field of International Studies. At the same time, you will gain in-depth knowledge about the regional specialisation of your choice, while also learning to speak, read and write one of this region’s major languages. This will give you a unique perspective on global and regional developments. Moreover, you will develop academic and practical skills that will support you in your further career path.

Eight world regions

In your first year you can tailor the International Studies programme according to your interests, by choosing one of eight world regions as a specialisation, while also learning one of that region’s major languages:

  • Africa: Arabic, Berber, French, Portuguese, Swahili
  • East Asia: Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese
  • Europe: Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Latin America: Portuguese, Spanish
  • Middle East: Arabic, Modern Hebrew*, Persian*, Turkish*
  • North America: French, Spanish
  • Russia and Eurasia: Russian
  • South Asia and Southeast Asia: Hindi, Indonesian

* This language is only offered if there are enough participants.

Hands-on experience: PRINS

Your third year is the year where you get to demonstrate what you know and what you can do after having thoroughly explored the field of International Studies since your start of the programme. Are you up to the challenge?

We offer you a unique opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired to a set of practical challenges. In this year you will take the exciting 12-week consultancy course Practising International Studies (PRINS). In a team with fellow students you will work on finding solutions to real-life issues put forward by leading organisations, such as Unilever, UNESCO, UN Women, Starbucks, Philips, the European Space Agency and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Why International Studies at Leiden University?

  • A programme which incorporates many different disciplinary perspectives, i.e. history, politics, economics and culture, allowing you to develop a broad view on globalisation.
  • Lecturers who belong to the top of their field.
  • Specialise in one of eight regions, learn one of the region’s languages and gain in-depth knowledge about your region of choice.
  • Practical experience in research projects and in the unique PRINS consultancy course. 
  • A programme with a personal approach that provides plenty of opportunity to engage with fellow-students and lecturers.
  • Excellent facilities in the heart of The Hague, the seat of government and home to a wide range of international and national organisations.
  • Perfect preparation for a career in academia, the public or private sector.

Is this the programme for you?

  • Are you interested in the effects of globalisation on daily life? 
  • Do you want to understand regional and global dynamics?
  • Would you like to learn a new language?
  • Do you want to bring new insights to your understanding of the world news?
  • Are you curious about the political, economic, historical, and cultural dimensions of other societies?
  • Would you like to be part of a vibrant multicultural student environment, with classmates from the Netherlands and around 50 other countries?
  • Do you want to develop your professional skills and interact with national or international organisations?

If the answer is ‘yes’, International Studies is the programme for you! Check out the International Studies programme and take a look at our online platform for a taste of what this programme, its students and lecturers.

Online Experience International Studies

Do you want to know if the bachelor’s programme International Studies is right for you? Check out our Online Experience, which consists of online mini-courses and small assignments. This is an easy way to get a taste of the first year of our programme.

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