Universiteit Leiden

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International Relations (MA)

About the programme

The one-year master in International Relations offers an exciting and challenging mix of theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

The programme offers five specialisations:

  • Culture and Politics considers critical perspectives on culture as an inextricable part of global politics. 
  • In European Union Studies we offer the only general MA-level study of the European Union in the Netherlands. It is an interdisciplinary programme in which you will concentrate on issues that make up the core concern of European integration.
  • Global Conflict in the Modern Era investigates the different perspectives on security from a multidisciplinary and global angle.
  • Global Order in Historical Perspective examines the social construction and the normative system created in the pursuit of global justice in a variety of areas. 
  • Global Political Economy engages with the governance, structure, history and development of the global economy from a variety of theoretical standpoints and competing disciplinary and regional perspectives. 

All specialisations (except European Union Studies) follow the same format:

Semester 1

  • a core course;
  • a preparatory course for your thesis;
  • the course Ideas in World Politics;
  • and an elective.

Semester 2

  • the course Regionalism in World Politics;
  • a second elective;
  • and a thesis.

Electives/internship
You may choose electives (20 EC total) from a wide range of graduate level courses offered across the Faculty of Humanities. You will also have the possibility to exchange one elective for an internship at an organisation / institution in the field of international or foreign relations, in or outside of the Netherlands.

Please note that you will need to find your own internship, follow an internship procedure for approval, and that pursuing an internship may have consequences for the date of graduation.

Preparatory course and MA thesis
The preparatory course introduces you to core conceptual, methodological and theoretical issues you meet when you initiate, research, and write your MA thesis. In addition, a series of seminars will enable you to discuss specific issues related to International Relations. Your thesis is supposed to be based on original research that speaks to the core themes of the MA International Relations

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Self-study
  • Internship (optional)
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

The acquisition of advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts and the analysis of complex conceptual problems, as well as the ability to independently conduct high-quality scientific research are key goals of the programme.

A second MA at Bologna: International Affairs

Due to a special agreement between the two universities, it is possible to earn a second master’s degree in International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins Bologna Center. Your Leiden MA degree in International Relations gives you access to the second year of the research-oriented Master of Arts in International Affairs, provided by Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe. Candidates admitted to the Bologna programme would be given a full year’s credit towards this two-year MA. Courses at SAIS Bologna emphasize economics, political science, history and foreign language proficiency, providing a cross-disciplinary approach.

Eugenio Cusumano

Researcher and University Lecturer

Eugenio Cusumano

“As a multidisciplinary programme, the Master's in International Relations offers an ideal environment to study phenomena that challenge traditional, state-centric understandings of international relations such as the increasing role of non-state actors in international security.“

Mark Rutgers

Dean

Mark Rutgers

“Many of our master’s students discover the quality of our programmes only after they join us. In the Netherlands, self-promotion is not a big part of our culture, yet Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty ranks alongside the most prestigious universities in the world, and is the established leader in continental Europe. What can our students expect from this programme? An education on par with the world’s best, with teaching by top researchers.”

Alumni: close-knit global community

“Your graduation from a master’s programme marks a new chapter in your relationship with Leiden University. Our alumni community is highly active in terms of network-building and development. They are valued by the university, and we support them with personal and professional development and free use of our facilities such as the Leiden University Library. This close-knit global community offers life-long support for all our former students in terms of reaching goals, maintaining friendships and expanding networks.”

Research: encouraging you to think beyond your own discipline

“Some of the most high-profile humanities research produced today is conducted at Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty. These faculty members are among a handful worldwide who can lay claim to such a depth and breadth of academic expertise. One example is our centre of excellence on Native American cultures, languages and history – a research group that is one of the best in the world. At Leiden, we can offer students expertise in most niche areas of interest. Our faculty members often work together across disciplines, and encourage students to think beyond the limits of their own discipline, which is where the future of innovative research lies.”

Careers: opportunities to develop your talent

Decisions made during your studies have a big impact on your future. We offer you many opportunities to develop your talents both within and outside of the classroom, including internships, study trips abroad, student committees, and minors. These opportunities help define your objectives for after your studies, and equip you with additional skills and experience.”

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see the e-Prospectus of the specialisation of your interest. Please note that the programme in the e-Prospectus shows the content of the current academic year.