International Relations and Organisations (BSc)
Studying International Relations and Organisations (IRO) you will address transboundary issues from a social sciences point of view. It is an international 3-year programme with a strong focus on current global affairs.
How is the programme set-up?
2 semesters, 4 blocks
- The academic year runs from September to July and is divided into two semesters.
- Each semester has two blocks, so there are four blocks in total.
- Each block has 8 weeks; 7 weeks of lectures and workgroups (the last week of each block is exam week).
- There are no holidays within a semester.
- After the first semester, during the month of January, there is a ‘Winter break’, during which there are no programme activities (with the exception of resits, see below).
- The same goes for the ‘Summer break’, which is after the second semester, from July to September.
- The last week of each block is exam week.
- For each exam there is one resit scheduled.
- Resits for exams taken in the first semester take place during the January reces;
- Resits of exams taken in the second semester take place in June, at the start of the Summer reces.
Semesters, blocks, exams
The second year has the same structure as the first year (two semesters, four blocks of each 7 weeks and 1 one exam week).
In some respects, the second year differs from the first year:
- The academic skills workgroups span two blocks.
- In the second semester, you will have to choose between two courses: Contemporary Political Philosophy (block 3) or Rational Choice Theory (block 4).
The third year is all about choice. It consists of three elements, each of which can be tailored to your interests:
- an interactive bachelor seminar, which you pick from a broad range of topics;
- the bachelor project, during which you prepare for and write your thesis and which you also select from a broad range of topics;
- the elective space, spanning 30 EC, which you design yourself, using one or more of these building blocks:
- elective courses from other programmes and even universities;
- a minor, a set of related courses from another bachelor’s programme;
- a research internship and/or
- study abroad, via
- an exchange programme (temporarily enrolling in the study programme of a partner institution), or
- going abroad independently (selecting the institution and making all arrangments yourself).
The options you chose, and how they are scheduled accross the (academic) calendar at home, the target institution or workplace, determine what your third year looks like in terms of the order of courses, etc. By the time you need to start preparing for the third year, your study adviser will gladly assist you.
What courses will I take?
Lectures, skills courses, and workgroups
During the first year of the programme, you acquaint yourself with the basics of the political science discipline and international politics. Furthermore, you will study related subjects, such as economics and history. An important part of the programme is reserved for skills courses, where you practice text analysis, debating, and academic writing. You attend lectures with all IRO students from the same year.
The work groups consist of about 24 students, and during the work group sessions you actively work with your fellow students on deepening and processing the knowledge you have gained from the lectures and your reading.
Contact hours and independent studying
Studying International Relations and Organisations is a full-time job; it will take you 40 hours a week on average. Attending lectures, tutorials, and work group sessions will take about 16 hours; these are the contact hours. The rest of the time you will study independently or with your fellow students preparing for the lectures and work group sessions, writing assignments and essays, and reading.
|Introduction to Political Science (7 EC)
|Investigate some of the discipline’s core concepts, such as ‘power’ and ‘state’. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of normative and empirical approaches, and learn about different research strategies in political science.
|Introduction to International Relations (8 EC)
|Acquaint yourself with the main theoretical perspectives on international politics. What is the role of the state, in light of the growing importance of international governmental organisations (e.g. the United Nations) and non-governmental organisations (e.g. Amnesty International)? How can we make sense of the behaviour of these and other actors in the global arena?
|Global History (5 EC)
|For centuries Europe has dominated a large part of the world. This course aims to help you understand the dynamics that led to this process as well as the consequences for contemporary politics. Drawing on insights from economic history, military history and—last but not least—political history, the emergence of the modern nation-state in Europe is studied.
|Actors in World Politics (5 EC)
|States are traditionally seen as the most important actors in world politics. States are sovereign political entities which makes them powerful and relevant. However, especially since the end of the Second World war other actors have entered the stage: multinationals and non-governmental organisations like Amnesty International have conquered a place at the table; international governmental organisations such as the United Nations play an important role in addressing global issues such as poverty, armed conflict and climate change. In this course you study the great variety of actors in world politics, as well as the processes they are involved in, including decision-making, policy-making, diplomacy, mediation and negotiation.
|Statistics I (5 EC)
|As a student in social sciences, you will ask questions of an empirical nature. That means you will need both data and methods for processing these data. In this course you familiarise yourself with data description, basic statistical measurement, and the SPSS Statistics software.
|International Organisations (5 EC)
|International organisations have become important actors in world politics. What role do these organisations play, exactly? How do they work; do they have an identity of their own? You will look into large and well-known organisations such as the United Nations, European Union, and NATO, but also into lesser known (non-)governmental entities.
|Economics for Political Scientists (5 EC)
|Learn about, or refresh your memory of, the main principles of economic theory and apply these to policy making. Some of the subjects that will be addressed are consumer and producer behaviour, money and banking, monetary policy, and the international economy.
|Research Methods in Political Science (5 EC)
|This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of social scientific research, specifically in political science. Students become familiar with the core concepts and basic principles of political Science research.
|Introduction to Comparative Politics (7 EC)
|Explore themes such as political culture, elections, parties and party systems, interests groups, parliaments, governments , and bureaucracy. The emphasis in this course is on distinguishing different patterns of democratic rule and institutes in various countries.
|Politics of the European Union (8 EC)
|This course addresses one of the most important international organisations. You will learn how the EU was formed, which institutions make up the EU and how they (are supposed to) function, and the policy areas in which the EU is active. Furthermore, you will look into the theories and approaches that may explain the phenomenon of European integration.
The second year of our programme offers you in-depth courses focusing on the following themes:
- Global justice
- International development
- International security
- International political economy
- International law and human rights
In the third year, you zoom in on two specific topics of your choice, for example civil wars as part of the International Security theme for your Bachelor Seminar and your Bachelor Project (including your thesis).
In addition, you can choose to do electives or a minor, study abroad, or do a research internship+ electives for your elective space. The advantage of The Hague is that you will be surrounded by (international) political organisations that may be offering internships.
The Binding Study Advice (BSA) entails that you need to earn at least 45 out of the 60 study credits at the end of your first year in order to be able to continue in your second year.
In the course of your first year you will be given regular advice on your progress. This advice, although it is not binding, is a good indication of whether or not you are likely to be able to complete your study successfully within the time prescribed. You will receive your first advice half way through the academic year, by 31 January at the latest. If your results are insufficient in May/June, you will again be issued with advice.
The third advice, which you will receive by 15 August the latest, is binding. There are two outcomes:
A positive advice means that you may continue to the second year of the programme. Please note, however, that eventually you have to obtain all 60 study credits.
If you miss credits, you will need to take the courses and/or do the exams for the relevant subjects again.
A negative binding study advice means that you must unenroll from the programme. It also means that you cannot apply for the same programme at Leiden University for the coming four years.
The programme structure at a glance:
› Course overview IRO (PDF)
Further information about the content of the courses can be found here: