Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Culture and Politics (MA)

About the programme

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

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)
Humanities-based International Relations (5 EC) Thesis (15 EC)
Elective (10 EC)  
  • Losing Face and the 'ASEAN Way': Southeast Asian Culture and Regional Peace and Stability
  • Depicting Humanitarianism: Ethics in Visual Media on the Case of Yemen
  • Basquiat's and Ofili's Double Consciousness: An Exploration of Transnational Black Identity Through African Diasporic Art
  • The Politics of Music: Jazz as a Form of Subversion in the Early and Modern United States, 1850-1989
  • Porto M’s Aesthetic Choices and their Political Meanings: A Non-traditional Museum and the Fight Against Forms of Domination
  • Comparing Dutch and Austrian Soft Power: On the Driving Factors of International Cultural Policy
  • Regarding Visuality: Understanding Apartheid Photography as a Tool for Resistance Through the Visual Turn in IR
  • Learning to Forget: The Role of Education in Creating National Memory
  • Moves of Innocence in Post-empires: Emmanuel Macron's Politics of Reconciliation and the Return of Cultural Objects to Africa
  • Legacies of the Past: Nationalism and Islam in Post-Soviet Georgia
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Flipped classrooms
  • Negotiations and role plays 
  • Independent research
  • Internship (optional)
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays and reports 
  • Oral presentations
  • Group projects
  • Active participation 

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.


When it comes to picking a topic for your thesis, you have great freedom in what you want to write about. We have many thesis supervisors who have different expertise.

MA Thesis preparatory course

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. 


You have the opportunity to replace one elective with an internship or to pursue an internship as an extracurricular activity. Both options usually imply a study extension because you would delay graduation by one semester. Yet this possibility is valued and used by many of our students.

This experience is highly valued within international organisations. In the past years International Relations students have done internships at a huge variety of organisations, including:

  • Security Policy Department (DVB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dutch Ministry of Defense
  • NGOs, for example Gender Concerns International or NGO’s focused on humanitarian aid
  • Think tanks, such as the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’, the International Centre for Counterterrorism and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies around the world
  • European institutions - examples include Estonian presidency of the European Union, internships for members of the European Parliament
  • Media outlets such as Een Vandaag in Hilversum
  • Netherlands Permanent Mission to the United Nations


You may choose electives (20 EC total) from a wide range of specialist courses. For examples, please see below or check the online study guide

Detailed programme

Course EC
Core Course Culture and Politics 10
Ideas in World Politics 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations and Research (CP) 5
Regionalism in World Politics 5
MA Thesis Culture and Politics 15
Core Course Culture and Politics 10
Ideas in World Politics 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations and Research (CP) 5
Course EC
Cultures of Resistance: South Asia and the World (10 EC) 10
Decentering International Relations: Views from the Global South 10
Informality, Exclusion and (Adverse) Inclusion: Foundations and Key Concepts 10
Rethinking Secularism in International Relations 10
Brazil in the Portuguese Speaking World: Political and Cultural Dynamics 10
Culture and Society in the Medieval Muslim World 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 10
Modern United States Foreign Policy 10
Narratives That Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in the Middle East 10
Interculturality 1: Key Concepts 10
International Relations of the Middle East 10
Internship MA International Relations 10
Issues in Latin American Foreign Policies 10
Muslims in a Global Context: Anthropological Approaches 10
Neoliberalism in Latin America: Varieties, Similarities and Alternatives 10
U.S. Culture and Identity in an Age of Globalization 10
China and Global Cyberspace 10
Contemporary Brazil 10
Contemporary Indian Politics 10
Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World 10
Global Social Policy: The Political Economy of Social Reproduction 10
Interculturality 2: The Global Imagination 10
International Relations of the Middle East: Everyday Matters 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (10 EC) 10
`Ulamâ’ in the Modern Muslim World 10
Internship MA International Relations 10

Online Study Guide

For a more detailed programme and an overview of all the possible electives, 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.

John-Harmen Valk

University Lecturer

John-Harmen Valk

“International relations are shaped by the culturally inflected understandings of international actors and by the harnessing of cultural forms to advance political ends. The Culture and Politics specialisation positions students to explore the global variety of cultural experiences regarding international politics thanks to its teaching staff with rich regional expertise, especially the Global South. It also attunes students to the politics coursing through a wide array of cultural forms that shape and reshape the international realm—images, narratives, rituals, museums, music and beyond.”

This website uses cookies. More information.