Universiteit Leiden

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International Studies (BA)

About the programme

During this programme you gain deep knowledge of one of eight world regions by studying its politics, economy, history and culture, and a local language. You will gain the ability to view regional issues from a global perspective, preparing you to play a crucial role in an increasingly globalised and interconnected world.

Programme overview

In the first year of International Studies, all students engage in the same core courses on economics, history, culture and politics. Through the core courses, a clear shared base for further studies is established. Moreover, you will start to develop your academic skills: reading and thinking critically, writing and speaking clearly and concisely. In the second semester you start to specialise in the region of your choice through courses that focus on its history and culture; and begin your language training.

The first semester of the second year gives you the opportunity to deepen your knowledge of your chosen area:

  • East Asia 
  • Africa
  • Russia and Eurasia
  • South and Southeast Asia
  • Latin America 
  • North America
  • Middle East 
  • Europe

You will learn more of the area's economic and political situation, as well as gain a global perspective on cultural interaction. You continue to improve reading, writing and speaking skills in your chosen language, and select your first thematic seminar from a broad range.  In the second semester you learn about international relations and global political economy, and you have the opportunity to practice your research skills in a second Thematic seminar.

The first semester of the third year of the programme offers you the so-called elective space in which you can freely choose between an international exchange, an internship, or a university minor. The second semester is where you show off your practical and academic skills: In the PRINS course you compete in teams to solve real cases presented by such organisations as Unilever, Workplace Pride, UNESCO, the European Space Agency and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further, you write a final thesis with a topic agreed upon by you and your supervisor.

Curriculum International Studies

Your programme begins with broad introductory courses; in the second semester of your first year you choose a world region and a corresponding language to focus on. The programme integrates hands-on experience of working with organisations and businesses to its curriculum. 

Read more about the programme structure here

Maria Barroso


Maria Barroso

"Because I’m going to focus on Europe, I have the chance to learn a new language, so, besides International Studies, I’m also learning French. This programme really does enrich you as a person."

Dr. Paula Jordão


Dr. Paula Jordão

"The tutorials are one of the most important components of the BA International Studies. In small groups of 12 to 15 students, it is in the tutorials that students put into practice what they learn in the lectures, under the guidance of a group of young international tutors who have already obtained their PhD or Master’s degree. Tutorials are interactive, lively and dynamic!"

Joost Augusteijn

Chair International Studies

Joost Augusteijn

"Opportunities for professional development are integrated into the curriculum throughout, including internship possibilities and one of the programme’s great diff erentiators, the Practising International Studies (PRINS) course in which you act as a consultant to international organisations and businesses."

Practising International Studies (PRINS)

In the third year PRINS course you compete in teams to solve real cases presented by such organisations as Unilever, Workplace Pride, the European Space Agency and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

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Educational methods

As an International Studies student, you can expect a full working week of about 40 hours. You will spend an average of 14 hours in-class, both lectures and tutorials, and the rest of the time in independent study. You attend lectures focused upon a particular topic; the lectures are complemented by small-scale (12-15 students) tutorials in which the material is discussed in greater depth and with more student input, for example in solo or group presentations.

Student support services

The coordinator of studies of the programme advises students about their programme, arranges all kinds of practical things (such as the schedule) and help students in case of personal issues.

You have support beyond your programme too, from the dean of students or student psychologist. And if you experience chronic illness, physical or psychological disabilities or dyslexia you can contact Fenestra Disability Centre for personal advice before or early in your application process.

Mentor System

During the introduction days, all students will be divided into different mentor groups. A second or third-year International Studies student will be assigned to your group as your mentor. You will not only take part in the introduction days with your mentor group, but you will also share all tutorials in the first semester with this group.

In your first year of International Studies your mentor will also provide you with practical information, such as how to register for exams.  Furthermore, during your first year you will have a couple of meetings with your mentor group. During these meetings several important subjects will be addressed, such as study skills, time management and you will obtain practical information you can use to get the most out of your studies.

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