Universiteit Leiden

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Culture and Politics (MA)

About the programme

The one-year International Relations master specialisations offer an attractive mix of theoretical knowledge with practical experience.

Dr. Karen Smith on studying the Master International Relations at Leiden University

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Programme structure

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

Semester 1 Semester 2
Core course for your specialisation (10 EC) Regionalism in World Politics (5 EC)
Preparatory course for your thesis (5 EC) Elective (10 EC)
Ideas in World Politics (5 EC) Thesis (15 EC)
Elective (10 EC)  

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
  • Flipped classrooms
  • Independent research
  • Internship (optional)
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations
  • Negotiations/role plays
  • Book reviews, content/discourse analyses, position papers and policy briefs

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. At the same time, we seek to help students acquire and develop skills that see them prepared for a range of careers, whether in national ministries, regional or international organisations, non-governmental organisations, universities, think tanks or private companies. This is achieved through employing innovative teaching and assessment methods, providing opportunities for conversations with practitioners and policymakers and facilitating intra- or extracurricular internships.

Electives/internship Culture and Politics

You may choose electives (20 EC total) from a wide range of specialist courses. 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.

For examples of organisations where students from the MA International Relations programme may find an internship, please check the Career prospects page.

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.

A second MA at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe: School of Advanced International Studies

Due to a special agreement between the two universities, it is possible to earn a second degree at the European campus of Johns Hopkins University SAIS, in Bologna, Italy. Your Leiden MA degree in International Relations gives you access to the second year of the research-oriented Master of Arts in International Affairs(MAIA). Candidates admitted to the Bologna programme would be given a full year’s credit towards this two-year MA. The MAIA at SAIS Europe is a research-focused program where students have the flexibility to personalize their curriculum and focus on the contemporary issues in international affairs of the greatest importance aligned with their career interests. Courses at SAIS Europe emphasize economics, political science, history and foreign language proficiency, providing a cross-disciplinary approach.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.


Alanna O'Malley

Researcher and University Lecturer

Alanna O'Malley

“Every query about the nature and form of international relations begins with a solid understanding of the historical context of the question. It is particularly important for the Culture and Politics programme, given our innovative approach to international relations and its critical focus on non-Western approaches to international issues.”

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